If Republicans have their way, the last years of Barack Obama’s presidency will be a doozy.
In an interview with Politico, Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell laid out a game plan for reining in the president’s policies that could turn the next two years into a series of confrontations.
“If the Republicans get total control of Congress, you can expect it to be somewhat of a replay of [former Republicans Speaker of the House Newt] Gingrich vs. [President] Clinton—except worse,” said Robert Smith, professor of political science at San Francisco State University. “It is not going to be a pretty scene.”
While Clinton was more centrist in his policies, Obama leans solidly to the left, a tendency that agitates Republicans, Smith said.
McConnell said the emerging plan is meant to force the president to “move to the center.” Republicans will attach policy riders to spending bills and use an obscure Senate rule to thwart Democratic filibusters, thus forcing the president to either yield by accepting their bills or veto the bills and face a government shutdown.
“We’re going to pass spending bills, and they’re going to have a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy,” McConnell said in an interview aboard his campaign bus. “That’s something he won’t like, but that will be done. I guarantee it.”
If Capitol Hill Republicans proceed with their plan, it could come back to haunt them. The last time they played chicken with Democrats and the president, they were pilloried by the public for the ensuing government shutdown and surrendered a large chunk of their political capital.
But even that potential loss may not be a deterrent to the more rabid anti-Obama Republicans, Smith said.
“They will be willing to risk public disapproval because the Tea Party contingent is so against Obama they would be willing to send the whole [country] over the cliff.”