Just Say No
From the New York Times:
Senate Republicans on Thursday rejected a bill to aid small businesses with expanded loan programs and tax breaks, in a procedural blockade that underscored how fiercely determined the party’s leaders are to deny Democrats any further legislative accomplishments ahead of November’s midterm elections.
The measure, championed by Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, had the backing of some of the Republican Party’s most reliable business allies, including the United States Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business. Several Republican lawmakers also helped write it.
But Republican leaders filibustered after fighting for days with Democrats over the number of amendments they would be able to offer. A last-ditch offer by Democrats to allow three was refused by the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. [Emphasis added]
Adding amendments to a bill is a long-established, if lamentable, part of the sausage making process in Congress. Both parties know this, and both parties engage in it. That part of the process might be justified if the amendments bore some kind of relationship to the subject of the bill, but that is too often not the case, and it certainly is not the case here. Democrats decided they could live with three of the amendments because, with a little creative thinking, three of them did have a tangential connection:
The three Republican amendments that Democrats seemed open to debating would eliminate a provision in the new health care law requiring businesses to file 1099 forms reporting when they buy more than $600 in goods from other businesses, extend a tax credit for biodiesel fuel and extend a credit for research and development.
But that wasn't good enough for the GOP. Rather than pass a bill that would help out small businesses, a group Republicans always claims is "the engine that drives our economy", Republicans wanted more. Much more.
Republicans had also wanted amendments on other topics, including the estate tax, nuclear loan guarantees, border security and the expiring Bush tax cuts.
It's not difficult to see what the GOP is engaging in: extortion. Americans don't mind if the tax cuts for the wealthiest expire. In fact, if that happens, the burgeoning deficit which seems to bother some folks might be reduced a bit. The Republicans know that a bill which would extend those tax cuts wouldn't be introduced by the Democrats, and would anger the public if they tried to introduce it. The same goes for the estate taxes, which at the present favor only the super wealthy. Consequently, the Republicans wanted to use the poorly lit back door to keep their donors happy.
And, just as importantly, it's an election year. The Democrats have managed to pass some major legislation, as hackneyed and insufficient as it is. The Republicans didn't want another arrow added to the Democratic quiver. That fact is so clear that the reporter who has the byline on the article, David M. Herszenhorn, embedded it in the story's lede.
Once again, getting re-elected and getting the power back is all that matters to those yahoos. It's nice our press is finally willing to point that out, even if only occasionally. Now it's time for the Democrats to acknowledge that fact and to trumpet it.
Labels: Just Say No