In a classic move from a Frank Capra film, the Republican-controlled House – led by Claude Rains type characters – passed sweeping legislation Saturday cutting $61 billion from hundreds of federal programs, while at the same time sheltering coal companies, oil refiners and farmers from new government regulations.
The party line vote of 235-189 passes the bill on to the Democratic-controlled Senate where it will in all likelihood meet its well deserved demise; and if by some odd chance it survives the Democratic controlled Senate, it is all but guaranteed to be vetoed by the President.
This week has given the American people one more bill in a series of fluff and nonsense legislation by the GOP House, and is seen by many as another remarkable victory for 87-member uber-conservative class of freshmen Tea Party-Republican hybrids, who were elected last fall, in the mid-term congressional election by the largely unthinking, uneducated and unwashed masses of the Tea Party movement. The new members of Congress promised to attack the deficit and reduce the reach of government.
One of the new kids on the block, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas trumpeted, “The American people have spoken. They demand that Washington stop its out-of-control spending now, not some time in the future.”
Problem is Congressman; the American people spoke no such thing. 80 + local constituencies fed on a daily menu of vitriolic right-wing fear radio and FOX PAC programming elected you, not “the American people”. The one thing you and all the GOP House has forgotten is that all politics are local, and nowhere is that more true than in the House of Representatives.
So, what did they pass, this group of American loving legislators? Well, the $1.2 trillion bill covers every Cabinet agency through the end of the current fiscal year, or through 30 Sep 11, imposing (if it passes the Senate, and the President) severe spending cuts aimed at domestic programs and foreign aid, including aid for schools, nutrition programs, environmental protection, and heating and housing subsidies for the poor. Did you catch all that? The GOP is cutting programs for schools, nutrition, environmental protection, and heating and housing subsidies for the poor. Who does this affect mostly? Minorities; or everyone who isn’t an angry white, right-wing, Christian, gun-toting, Tea Party drinking voter; you know the types, the ones who “spontaneously” show up at “rallies” carrying signs decrying how they’re taxed too much, and how the President is a Communist/Nazi thug. Yeah, all those well read, deep thinking types; Glenn Beck’s masses.
On the brighter side, the bill is doomed when it arrives in the Democratic-controlled Senate, and was doomed even before TPGOP (Tea Party Grand Old Party) amendments adopted later in the week pushed it further and further away from the main stream shores and out onto the right-wing rocks and shoals of health care and environmental policy. Senate Democrats have promised higher spending levels and are more than prepared to defend the recent health care law, environmental policies and new efforts to overhaul regulation of the financial services industry.
But wait, the TPGOP isn’t finished with simply hurting the poor and minorities, it wants to provide shielding for greenhouse-gas polluters and privately owned colleges from federal regulators, block a plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, and bar the government from shutting down mountaintop mines it believes will cause too much water pollution, siding with big business over environmental activists and federal regulators. Why would anyone in their right minds do this? That’s very simple, “money”.
Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass, summed it up very well when he said, “This is like a Cliff Notes summary of every issue that the Republicans, the Chamber of Commerce, and the (free market) CATO Institute have pushed for 30 years.”
But what about the jobs the TPGOP promised to deliver if given control of Congress? Cue crickets chirping – put hand over eyes to shield sun as you gaze out towards the horizon – nope, nowhere in sight.
The one thing this bill passage is guaranteed to do is to drive an even bigger wedge between, not only Democratic members of Congress and the TPGOP membership, but even within the TPGOP itself. It’s as though Speaker Boehner is a maniacal train engineer sending his locomotive plummeting down the tracks to the bridge he knows is out, screaming for more steam, more steam!
As the next two years progress we will no doubt see more of these nonsensical bills, and more Republicans voting against them, and with any luck at all a country tired of the TPGOP and a return of the House to grownups not needing a hanky handy every time they speak.
“But we have to get the deficit under control!” The TPGOP screams. “We don’t want to be bothered with any level headed, clear thinking debate. We just want to cut and slash everything that isn’t good and right in America.”
“Palin/Bachmann in 2012!” others cry.
“On with the revolution!” still more proclaim.
What the TPGOP has managed to do is to remove any and all meaningful discourse on the national debt/deficit and on the federal budget. And in so doing, they’ve magically ensured any differences on spending cuts won’t be resolved soon, meaning before the government runs out of money on 4 Mar 11, requiring a temporary spending bill when the current stopgap measure expires.
Boehner and company are insisting any new stopgap measure must carry huge spending cuts, an ultimatum carrying a threat of a government shutdown like the episodes that played to the advantage of former President Bill Clinton in his battles with Republicans in 1995-1996; the very same shutdown which eventually led to Newt Gingrich’s slinking away from Congress. Is Boehner prepared to slink away as well?
But who cares about government shutting down? Not the TPGOP; it’s on a roll baby, voting for other cuts, including voting for a ban on federal funding for the implementation of the year-old health care law; and falling all over themselves to see who can bow the lowest as they answer the royal command of anti-abortion lawmakers, calling for an end to federal funding for Planned Parenthood; again not only attacking the poor and minorities, but throwing woman under the bus too. “Raped and need help with that pregnancy?” they ask. “Too bad, God says you have to carry that baby to term!”
Is there not any group which benefits from the House being controlled by the TPGOP? Of course there is, it’s the Military Industrial Complex. While mercilessly slashing and burning domestic agencies spending by 12 percent, the TPGOP awarded the Pentagon with a 2 percent increase.
But wait sports fans, the TPGOP wasn’t finished, not by a long shot; one of its greatest nemesis’s, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was out there and they needed to wound it, and wound it deeply, they needed to defend big business and industry from its numerous agency regulations constantly threatening job-creation and the economy. And wound it they did, slashing its budget by almost one-third, and hampering its regulatory powers. In the process, if the TPGOP has its way, proposed federal regulations would be blocked on emission of greenhouse gases, and a proposed regulation on mercury emissions from cement kilns would also be stopped.
For those living in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, Rep Robert Goodlatte, TPGOP-Va., won a 230-195 vote blocking an EPA plan for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay that would cut pollution from runoff from farms and municipalities throughout the Chesapeake watershed. Yeah for you! Aren’t you happy to have such a wonderful guy looking out for your interests? After all, it’s not like any of you rely on that pesky old bay for your livelihoods or anything.
And woo hoo for Floridians! Your local agricultural interests won a vote blocking those damnable EPA rules issued last year aimed at controlling fertilizer and other pollutants that stoke the spread of algae in the state’s waters. More algae! More algae!
As dire as all this sounds however, these cuts aren’t going to happen. Thank God the Senate and White House are in Democratic hands. And just as Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck have to go further and further to the right-wing extremes to keep their listeners happy, these TPGOP members of congress are going to have to keep going further and further to the right-wing extremes to keep their “constituents” happy. This side show will play well for awhile, but like any traveling circus, eventually it runs out of people wanting to watch the show, pulls up its stakes and moves on. It happened to the GOP House in the nineties, and it will happen to TPGOP of the current Congress. Time – in spite of what the Rolling Stones sing – is not on their side.