Today, Republican House members tabled the Senate’s bi-partisan payroll tax cut extension and the unemployment benefits extension. These bills were passed by the Senate in a decisive bi-partisan vote of 89 – 10. For the 2011 Senate, the margin of approval for the bills was astounding.
Failure to extend the payroll tax cut will result in 160 million Americans paying between $1,000 and $2,500 more in 2012. Millions more Americans will lose 40 weeks of unemployment benefits. Passage of the Senate bill would have granted the continuation of these benefits.
Republicans fail to acknowledge that the payroll tax cut has successfully added jobs and increased take home pay while encouraging small businesses to hire. The country is inching out of the recession. Unemployment rates are decreasing. Housing is getting a bounce. The GDP is off the dime and growing more quickly than expected.
This fragile recovery serves We The People well, but is not to the Republican’s benefit.
The only consistent policies from Republicans is their commitment to replacing President Obama while protecting millionaires and billionaires. To advance these two goals, Republicans and Tea Party politicians have been willing to undermine the economy and intimidate the middle class and the poor; the most vulnerable Americans.
The essential terms of the Senate bills included:
- Two month extension of the payroll tax reduction.
- Two month extension of long-term unemployment.
- An agreement to discuss the Keystone XL Pipeline.
The Senate passed the extension plan and promptly left town assuming that the House would realize the strong Senate support for the bills and approve them. This is where things get sticky.
Majority Leader Boehner and Tea Party big shot Eric Cantor refused to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. Instead, House members opted to move to conference with the Senate in the hopes of carving out a one-year deal. Of course, the Senate went home understanding that their bill had Boehner’s blessing.
New York first-term Congressman Michael Grimm was interviewed Tuesday morning. During the interview, Grimm voiced the Republican spin on why the bill would not reach the floor. The newest Republican spin is that the House rejects a two-month extension during which time final details of the bill would be negotiated. The extension is called “kicking the can” down the road.
In a midday speech, Boehner called upon the Senate to reconvene and conference with House members to finalize a one-year bill. Boehner’s premise that the bill that passed the House was more than an extension of the payroll tax cuts.
No matter what you hear, the elephant in the room is the Keystone XL pipeline.
Republicans downplay the addition of this contingency to what should have been an up or down vote on the payroll tax cut and the extension of unemployment benefits. As described by the State Department, the pipeline does not have EPA approval. The State Department’s report indicates that the pipeline will create between 3,500 – 4,000 jobs.
What the pipeline will do, is increase the international export business. It will also diminish the supply of the Canadian tar sand oil to farmers in the midwest. The State Department estimates that the farm belt can expect to pay $0.20 per gallon more than they now pay.
Let’s be clear. Most of the oil provided under the Keystone XL pipeline will be shipped abroad and not used to reduce American energy costs. So, if the environment is to be endangered and there are very few jobs connected to the pipeline and if American fuel prices will increase, not decrease, why are Republicans pushing to accelerate the Keystone XL?
You know, don’t you? Of course, the Republicans are pushing for passage of the Pipeline at an accelerated pace because big oil will reap big profits; not We The People. Once again, the Republicans have included a project, that will benefit We The Few, to a bill that puts money in the economy right now. Can there be any doubt about the Republican agenda? House Republicans are shown their immoral persona one more time. They take huge amounts of money from big oil and they refuse tax breaks for working Americans. Congress pads their pockets with insider trading and charge taxpayers for their time. Seems like a good job, don’t you think? Of course, Congress passed legislation banning insider trading but it does not apply to Congress.
It is Republicans that have caused the country’s credit rating to fall. It is Republicans that held American workers hostage by only agreeing to extend the unemployment benefits if the Bush Tax Cuts were extended in 2009. The Tea Party has vowed to oppose all tax increases. But, when an extension of the payroll tax cut was on the table, Republicans suddenly changed direction. They opposed the Payroll Tax Cut for two reasons.
- The payroll tax cut was working.
- Extended unemployment benefits pump money into the economy.
Republicans added the pipeline to their bill knowing full well that the Senate would not approve. The addition of this proposal has clouded the middle class benefits and small business hiring incentives. House Republicans blocked submitting the bill for an up or down vote. The reason is that Republicans do not want to be on the record for voting against the bill.
A week ago, Speaker Boehner worked with Senate leaders McConnell (R) and Reid (D). Behind closed doors, Boehner agreed to the deal and represented to the Senate leaders that the bill would pass.
It was not that long ago that Boehner and the President ironed out details on a $4.2 spending reduction plan. However, when Boehner took the plan to his caucus, he was forced to change directions. The result was that no plan passed. The end result was that the American credit rating fell. This was the exact outcome that the Tea Party and the Republicans wanted.
Today, the big losers are millions of Americans. There are no winners. Voters must come to realize how dysfunctional the House is. Boehner has no control. He is weak and lacks credibility. He has been the Majority Leader in an arm of Congress that has the lowest approval rating and worst legislation record in the history of the country.
House Whip Eric Cantor looks familiar doesn’t he? He is that elementary school bully; the one that does things behind your back. He is the epitome of the sleazy politician. He stands behind Boehner with his chesire cat grin and nods his head because every time Boehner changes direction, Cantor takes one more step toward the Speaker’s gavel. He wants Boehner’s job and there is no hiding it.
Eric Cantor is a dangerous man. He hides under the cloak of fiscal responsibility in a party that launched two unfunded wars and passed the Bush Tax Cuts at a time when the government needed increased income. These acts, Bush’s push to socialize and deregulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pushed the economy and the world to the brink. It is Republicans that caused the socialized relief of the banking sector. It is We The People who bailed out the corrupt banking system.
When we look into the black hole that Republicans created, remember that when George Bush took office, he inherited a budget surplus. He set out to fulfill the big spender Texan appetite and placed the country in an unsustainable position.
Every time poor John Boehner takes the podium, viewers suffer the same symptoms as they do when Rick Perry tries to respond to a question. There is a difference. Perry actually believes in his philosophy. Boehner’s political beliefs seem to change after every meeting of his caucus. It is a matter of time before he is replaced and/or has a public tearful breakdown.
NY senior Senator, Chuck Schumer, said that just last week, Boehner attended a meeting with Senate leaders Reid and McConell. He left the meeting giving McConnell his proxy. McConnell and Reid agreed to the revisions and the Senate passed the bill 89-10. This margin rarely happens.
Adding insult to injury, Boehner now says he never liked the Senate bill. Untrue! Perhaps he should stayed at the meeting and saved face. Could he have had a golf date? One look at Boehner tells you where he spends most of his day. The position of the House has now caused a rift between Senate Republicans and House Republicans.
In summary, the losers are the middle class, the elderly, the infirmed, the poor and John Boehner. The Speaker’s integrity has suffered. His credibility in his own party is shattered. Meanwhile, Eric Cantor is several steps closer to the Speakership. If you want to untangle Congress, vote Boehner, Cantor and Tea Party candidates out…