Heller’s Obstructionism On Full Display

Heller Yellow StripePerhaps the most under-reported scandalous behavior in Washington, D.C. is the continual obstruction of Presidential nominations to fill vacancies in administrative and judicial posts, and Nevada junior Senator Dean Heller has been right in the middle of it.

First, he opposed the nomination of Elissa Cadish, refusing to sign the paperwork necessary for her candidacy as a judicial nominee to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee, because he was miffed by her position on guns.  Now, he’s opposing the nomination of Jennifer Dorsey because her previous law firm made a major donation to the PAC associated with Senator Harry Reid. [LVSun]

Surprise, surprise … law firms make significant political donations.  Who would have thought it?

“Nevada Sen. Dean Heller announced via statement Thursday that he would not be supporting Dorsey’s nomination because he was concerned about the propriety of large financial contributions Dorsey and her law firm — Kent, Jones & Coulthard — made to Sen. Harry Reid campaign and political action committees as he was considering recommending her to Obama for the position.” [LVSun]

That’s it?  No mention of her qualifications? Her previous legal work?  Not even a bit of sugar coating to make his opposition seem more professional, more considered?  Just pure good old fashioned unalloyed partisanship?  It doesn’t get more shallow than this.

Of course, Senator Heller’s previous press release wasn’t any more indicative of critical thinking.  His solution to the problem of interpreting the meaning of Internal Revenue Service regulations regarding the applications for 501(c)4 tax exempt status seems not to be the province of Congress to make clear and explicit statutes on what constitutes “social welfare” and if this should be the primary or the exclusive purpose of an applicant organization.

Nor, does Senator Heller propose that we restore the positions at the IRS, at least the 42 cut from the tax exemption department which took those ill advised shortcuts to process a 56% increase in the number of applications,  a staffing shortage which led to the creation of the shortcuts in the first place.  Believe it or not, Senator Heller’s “solution” is to exacerbate the problem.

“The President’s budget requested that about $440 million be diverted to the IRS for the purpose of enforcing the President’s healthcare law. Considering the IRS is under increasing scrutiny for targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, Heller introduced legislation to stop additional funding.”  [Heller]

Jolly, so budget cuts and staff reductions created problems for the Cincinnati office of the IRS in terms of determining the tax exempt status of 501(c)4 applicants, and now Senator Heller is promoting the idea that the IRS should be restricted in how it enforces health care insurance reform statutes?

This is simply classic Republican obstructionism at its finest.  The formula is predictable and thoroughly tested: Decry the incompetence of government, then cut funding and staffing levels for government agencies. When the agencies cannot function properly because of the funding and staffing cuts, decry the incompetence of government… lather…rinse…repeat.

Senator Heller’s machinations might be interesting, or at least amusing, if they were at least a tad bit unusual.  They aren’t.  He gives every appearance of spending the last week in full Obstruction and Blatant Partisanship Mode.   His fixation on the outward attributes of governmental operations makes Shallow Hal look like an astute and circumspect observer of human personality.

Meanwhile, the Federal District Courts in Nevada remain seriously understaffed.  How many more Nevada citizens and businesses must wait for their day in court before Senator Heller can find his  “perfect” nominee for an appointment to the bench?

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