President Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats have been getting beaten up by media pundits and their own liberal voters for failing to secure passage of the massively ambitious Build Back Better bill. If passed, the legislation will provide a couple trillion dollars – give or take a few hundred billion – to address a wide range of social needs, including access to child care for millions of middle-class families, long-term care for the aged and chronically ill, aid to struggling local newspapers, tax credits that will keep millions of children out of poverty, major programs to combat climate change and much more.

The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives passed the legislation months ago, but the majority Democrats in the Senate have been unable to get the job done because two members of their caucus have balked at spending so much money. Those two votes are important because the upper chamber is split 50-50 and Democrats hold control only because Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris casts the tie-breaking vote when necessary.

And it certainly would be necessary because none of the Republican senators will lift a finger, let alone cast a vote, to help the Democrats. And that is why all the blame directed at the Democrats for failing to promptly deliver on promises misses a big, obvious point: Republicans, pushed into a lockstep formation by the two respective minority leaders, Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, are the most responsible for gumming up the legislative process.

There was once a time – like most of American history – when party discipline did not outweigh every other consideration, a time when senators, in particular, made their own independent judgments about how to vote, a time when it was not at all uncommon to have support from members of both parties on even the most controversial bills. But no longer.

McConnell and McCarthy are like a pair of Scrooges intent on ruining the holiday dreams of anyone who happens to have a “D” at the end of their official title. If they came across Tiny Tim hobbling along on his crutches, they would toss him into a blizzard if they found out he was a Democrat.

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