EDITORIAL | Time to tell Congress: 'You're fired!'

Depending on which poll you’ve read, somewhere between 60 and 70 percent of the electorate think the country is headed in the wrong direction. At the same time, President Barack Obama holds a positive 55 percent approval rating.

What gives? If the administration truly has the power to determine public policy, how can we have a majority who approve of our president and a supermajority who disapprove of the country’s direction?

The answer is that Congress, not the administration, is ultimately responsible for writing and approving the legislation that becomes law. The president can use the bully pulpit to try and sway public opinion, or veto power to stop bad legislation in its tracks, but the real power to shape fiscal and social policy rests with the House of Representatives and the Senate.

So it stands to reason the angst many of us feel about the direction of the country may be tied to a do-nothing Congress. A Congress with a rock-bottom approval rating of approximately 20 percent (up from 11 percent last year -- way to bounce back, fellas!).

For the past two years the Republicans have controlled both chambers of Congress, with sorry results. Well, it’s election season once more. Let’s reward our lackluster incumbent candidates by borrowing a turn of phrase from the GOP presidential candidate -- “You’re fired!”

Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner quit over frustration with an increasingly Tea Party-influenced GOP and his inability to move legislation through the House. Paul Ryan, his replacement, promised effective Republican government in a shiny, new package.

Where have we landed with Ryan’s promises? He guaranteed a federal budget. Wrong. He promised to stop the endless continuance of resolutions and see that they finally pass or fail. Wrong!

It’s become increasingly clear that the problem isn’t how young, or hip, or Tea Party sympathetic the GOP’s leaders are. No matter who’s in power, the conservative wing of the House Republican party has held its leadership hostage -- and our country with it.

The problem gets even worse in the Senate.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader since 2014, is a clear example of a public servant who refuses to serve the public -- and a pathetic example, too, given he couldn’t even achieve his most selfish goals.

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” McConnell stated in an Oct. 23, 2010 interview in the National Journal.

Public official or political hack? You decide. Look to his comments March 2016 about the Senate’s duty to evaluate Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland: “I can’t imagine that a Republican majority in the United States Senate would want to confirm, in a lame duck session, a nominee opposed by the National Rifle Association.” In our opinion, those are the words of a political hack who’s been bought off by special interests.

Now some Senate Republicans are suggesting that, if they remain in control of the Senate and Hillary Clinton is elected, they may block any candidate she offers for the Supreme Court.

Their rationale is pathetic and transparent. They say there is nothing in the Constitution that states there must be nine Supreme Court justices; however, it was Congress that legislated a nine-person Supreme Court in 1869. If Congressional Republicans have decided they want to change that law, they can do something they’ve proven entirely unable to do thus far -- legislate.

We are a country of laws and the Supreme Court is a shining example of what makes America great. Senate Republicans’ suggestion we could go another four years -- or even eight! -- without approving a Supreme Court nominee shows how far they have headed in the wrong direction.

The Republican party, and Senate Republicans in particular, have lost any and all credibility. The proud party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, great statesmen all, has lost its way. Ronald Reagan would never stand for this kind of nonsense.

Simply put, Republican candidates do not deserve our support until their party demonstrates it has the good of the country in mind.


Peter Bernhard is the President and CEO of Pacific Publishing.