Republicans are blowing up their own agenda to 'own the libs'

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Republicans are blowing up their own agenda to 'own the libs'
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images
  • Republicans have spent the week blocking their own agenda in Congress in an attempt to "own the libs."
  • They threw a wrench in a bipartisan bill to counter China and a tech antitrust report.
  • This is the kind of foolishness you see when a party has no ambition beyond making clips for Fox News.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.

This is "laugh until you cry" type hilarious.

Over the last week Republicans have been blocking their own policy goals in order to make legislating more difficult for the Democratic majority.

Over in the Senate, Politico's Andrew Desiderio reports that what once seemed like a bipartisan slam dunk bill meant to shore up the US government and its allies against growing Chinese aggression is now being blocked by Republicans in committee. They complain that there are good ideas that are being "left on the cutting-room floor."

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Any rational adult would consider that a good jumping off point for another bill, especially considering the fact that 71% of Americans want to see more bipartisanship in Congress. What's more, the bill is being stopped by Idaho Republican James Risch, who is himself a co-sponsor of the bill. He has worried that Republicans won't get enough credit for the bill - that it will be more Democratic at the end of the day - this, even though three of Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio's smaller bills are contained within the larger piece.

Then there's another issue Republicans hold dear - regulating big tech companies. The House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on antitrust on Wednesday held a markup of its big tech report. The report recommends that companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon be brought down to size because they have too much power.

Now, if you've been listening to anything the Republicans (and former President Donald Trump) have said about these companies you know that they believe that companies like Facebook and Google have too much power and use that power to censor speech. In fact, the report came out of an agreement in 2019 between the committee's then-top members in each party - that Democratic Rep. David Cicilline and now former Republican Rep. Doug Collins - and at the start both sides took it seriously. But Collins then left the House and passed his leadership baton to none other than the GOP's top crisis actor, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan.

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During Wednesday's markup Jordan and fellow Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California kept insisting that they needed to insert new language about censorship into the report. Any of these suggestions could've been made over last few months. Instead of working in a bipartisan manner to try and address the growing problem of tech monopolies, the move was a farce designed to slow the process and make life more miserable for the Democratic majority.

"The gist of the Republican position right now is 'We believe big tech should be broken up. That's why we are disagreeing with your report making the case for breaking up big tech','" Matt Stoller, an antitrust researcher at the American Economic Liberties Project, tweeted after the markup.

From Party of 'No' to Party of 'Excuse me... what?'

The normal work of a political party is to fight for, draft, and pass legislation that enacts its agenda. So what this - this being whatever the Republicans are doing right now - is, I have no idea.

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A bipartisan majority of Americans want to see big tech companies regulated. That includes 65% of Republicans! The polling for countering China is even more decisive for the GOP, as 81% of Republican voters now believe that China's economic rise is a "critical threat." But yet the party is actively hamstringing efforts to do those things.

I'd also point you all the the GOP's 2020 platform - which would usually contain a laundry list of policy proposals - but they didn't have one. Instead the platform was just reelecting Trump (for all the good that did him). The thing is, Trump was for going after China and big tech as well.

So what gives? It's very clear that Republicans in Congress are not rewarded for getting things done, they are rewarded for pulling stunts and causing scenes. In his new book former House Speaker John Boehner writes that hew knew the party was in trouble when it rejected a $700 million economic rescue package President Bush put forward to ward off financial ruin during the economic crisis of 2008. Not only did members of his party have no problem bringing on a depression in order to please Sean Hannity, but also none of those members paid a political price for that.

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And so it is now. Republicans have not yet paid high enough a political price for presiding over one of the most do-nothing Senates in recent history, and they have not been held to account for supporting extremely unpopular policies - like refusing to raise corporate taxes to pay for an infrastructure bill, which three in five voters support.

What Republicans do care about is raising money, and some of the party's biggest do-nothing drama queens - like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley - have been able to raise money, especially from small dollar donations. Companies like JetBlue have even resumed donations to legislators who voted against certifying President Biden's victory in the electoral college.

There are some signs that consequences are coming, though. According to Gallup more Americans (49%) see themselves as Democrats than Republicans (40%). That nine point margin is the largest since 2012. It's a sign that most Americans prefer politicians who work for them over crisis actors who preform for Fox News.

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The legislative self-owning we're seeing from the GOP is the kind of vacuousness that follows when a party's agenda is nothing but its own power. Ultimately, when you stand for nothing, you stand in your own way.

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