Snap Fact #324
Why Didn't President Obama Get Everything He Wanted Passed in His First 2 Years in Office? Didn’t He Have a Democratic Majority?

Do you ever get asked the question "Why didn't Obama get anything done when he had a Democratic Congress for two years?" How do you answer this? Do you know that this is just one more insidious lie that has been started by people who know better, but they are counting on us to not uncover the facts and to just take the fiction on its face?


Even some of the most sophisticated people who are "in the know" have been misled. The reason is that the lie comes from the lips of every Republican in authority, on the air, and every other right wing nut with an e-mail account. The lie has been repeated so loud and so often that even the supposedly astute news people and political commentators don't push back on this documented outright distortion.  
HERE IS THE FACTUAL TRUTH OF THE MATTER: During the 111th Congress, the House and Senate passed 383 bills through both houses which were signed into law by the President. (Want the details? Reference 1 below identifies the Public Law identification number and the House or Senate bill number that produced the law. A link is provided to the text of both the Public Law and the bill.)

Let's put aside the fact that President Obama arguably accomplished more in his first two years than any other President in American history. Let's put aside that he created so much milestone legislation, saved the country from bankruptcy, decimated the al-Qaida leadership, and reasserted respect for America throughout the world. Let's put all that and more aside and just focus on the heart of the lie - that there was a Democratic Congress for the first two years of the Obama administration. There categorically was not a two year supermajority – that fiction is just a bald faced lie!

Here are the actual FACTS:
Things did not stay static during those first 2 years, rather the 111th Congressional history had more twists and turns, as well as more drama, than a Russian novel. This timeline shows the actual factual record.

Here is the actual factual history. President Obama was sworn in on January 20, 2009 with just 58 Senators to support his agenda. He should have had 59, but Republicans contested Al Franken's election in Minnesota and he didn't get seated for seven months.

The President's cause was helped in April when Pennsylvania's Republican Senator Arlen Specter switched parties. That gave the President 59 votes -- still a vote shy of the super majority. But one month later, Democratic Senator Byrd of West Virginia was hospitalized.

The longest serving Senator was essentially out of commission. So while the President's number on paper was 59 Senators -- he was really working with just 58 Senators.

Then in July, Minnesota Senator Al Franken was finally sworn in, giving President Obama the magic 60 -- but only in theory, because Senator Byrd was still out. In August, Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts died and the number went back down to 59 again until Paul Kirk temporarily filled Kennedy's seat in September. Any pretense of a supermajority ended on February 4, 2010 when Republican Scott Brown was sworn into the seat Senator Kennedy once held. Now do you know the real facts, do you see a two-year supermajority? I didn't think so.

You should also know that during the 111th Congress that ended in December 2010, over 400 bills that had been passed by the House of Representatives - many with broad bipartisan support - died in the Senate without ever having been debated or voted on in the Senate because of the inability to obtain the 60 votes required to overcome objections (or threatened filibusters) by the Senate Republican minority. 

An unprecedented record of shame for the party who publicly and privately trumpeted that they would rather wreck the country than make the President look good and possibly win a second term. This was the height of political hypocrisy and, some would say, tacit treason. It also was the apex of political miscalculation as the chickens will come home to roost in the 2012 election - the American public is not as dumb as the Republican leadership reckoned.

The number of killed bills could have been much higher than 400 had not Majority Leader, Harry Reid, invoke the cloture rule 137 times. Cloture is a method by which the Senate Majority Leader may close a debate (e.g. a filibuster) and proceed with an immediate vote to be taken on the issue. The cloture rule has considerably strengthened the power of the majority, and allowed it to pass many bills that would otherwise have been filibustered.

So next time you hear candidate Romney, or Ryan , or anybody else tell you that the President could have done anything he wanted to in his first 2 years because he had a super majority in the Senate and a majority in the house, refer them to this SNAP-CAP so they can get the facts and, if they have any integrity, they can stop passing on false and misleading information. The actual elapsed time that there was a Democratic super-majority in the Senate was a broken up total of approximately 4 months - and don't forget that the Blue Dog Democrats were not to be counted on to tow the party line either.

Now you know – tell everyone you know. Send this SNAP-FACT out to everyone you know and help get this information out to all voters, Democrat and Republican alike.