Obstructionism

| Mon Nov. 24, 2008 12:08 PM EST

OBSTRUCTIONISM....Matt Yglesias on the possibility of Republican Party obstructionism:

If the Senate GOP minority blocks needed stimulus and the economy fails to recover, I think the odds are good that the Democratic president and congressional leadership will be the ones to pay the price at the polls. Voters are pretty good at identifying who the incumbent party is, but not very good at assigning specific blame for specific policy outcomes.

This gets to one of my pet peeves about the media: when legislation fails, the headline is usually something along the lines of "Congress fails to pass _____," which doesn't give the casual reader any clue of who voted against it. It's just "Congress." What's worse, sometimes even the non-casual reader can have trouble figuring out who voted how, since it's buried pretty deeply inside the story.

That said, things might be a little different now. If Democrats end up with 58 or 59 seats in the Senate, and can hold their caucus together, then the only way Republicans can block legislation is by literally voting unanimously to do so. That's a pretty dramatic action, and even lazy headline writers are likely to take note. In the end, I don't think the GOP will be able to do this, but if they do, the average voter is liable to have a better idea than usual that they're doing it.