One of the ways obstructionism has become the norm in the Senate is the use of the filibuster--essentially, a minority group decision to block action supported by a majority of the legislative body. The filibuster used to require supporting senators to physically hold the floor in non-stop marathon talkfests. Then Senators got lazy--they can do a virtual filibuster--by merely convincingly calling up the spectre of the filibuster, they achieve the filibuster. It has made for minority rule and it needs to be changed.
Harry Reid is considering doing just that. When the new Congress convenes, the Senate could adopt new rules. There is some controversy regarding whether the Senate's current rules block the Senate's methods of adopting new rules, but creative interpretation has often been an aid in letting legislators achieve their goals. I'm all for finding a way around the obstructionism, because otherwise the Senate will not do the kind of reflective and considerate legislating on tax policy and other critical issues that it must do. I think a good start would be to eliminate the "virtual filibuster" and require an "actual filibuster" if the minority attempts to hold the majority at bay.
What's the GOP response to an attempt to stop the obstructionism by requiring the obstructionists to put their body where their blockage is?
“It will shut down the Senate,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told Politico. “It’s such an abuse of power.” Jillian Rayfield, Republicans threaten shutdown over filibuster reform, Salon.com (Nov. 26, 2012).
The irony of the response says it all. We will not be able to reach a reasonable solution to our long-term fiscal needs (protecting medicare, social security and medicaid while furthering job creation, responding to global climate change, and recommitting to the sustainability of the middle class through reallocation of resources) unless we act as a nation to deal with these issues. GOP obstructionism is just another example of the ostrich sticking its head in the dirt to pretend the problems will just go away on their own. I hope Reid acts. We'd see the tea party Senators attempt to defend the defenseless policies of more tax cuts for the rich, more maldistribution of resources, failure to focus on global warming, and similar stands on 24/7 TV news cycles--which would be bearable so long as there are channels out there that would combat the inevitable lies and misrepresentations with real investigative journalism.