The Nullification Chronicles Roll On

By James Fallows

220px-John_C_Calhoun_by_Mathew_Brady,_March_1849-crop.jpgThe Congress is finally moving ahead on a budget bill and a temporary extension of the payroll tax cut. End of obstructionism and modern "nullification"? Unfortunately not:

- Our old friend Sen. Mitch McConnell has, under the Senate's hallowed "each man a majority" precept, objected to and thereby prevented the confirmation of the dozens upon dozens of appointments listed here. The vast majority of them are noncontroversial; about 70 are military promotions; some are necessary for continuation of routine functions; but none of them will go ahead for now. The reason is reportedly that McConnell wants President Obama to promise not to make a recess appointment of Richard Cordray to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. This is an extension of previous GOP efforts to treat the CPFB, the board generally considered Elizabeth Warren's brainchild, as a still-hypothetical entity that can be prevented from operating, even though it has been passed and enacted into law.

- Similarly, the National Labor Relations Board will shortly be de facto "nullified," since Senate Republicans can block the appointment of members to vacant seats and therefore deny it a legal quorum to operate.

- Greg Sargent of the Washington Post explains again why obstructionism creates public hostility to both Democrats and Republicans, but eventually makes sense as a pure-political strategy for the GOP since a failure to govern inevitably weakens the incumbent president most of all.

This is really the way to run a modern country.
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The 1849 Mathew Brady daguerreotype of John C. Calhoun hereby becomes the running logo for the Modern Nullification Chronicles.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/12/the-nullification-chronicles-roll-on/250134/