It beats me what is really going through the minds of the House Republicans. I am inclined to conclude it’s sewage. Some of them say it’s because they want a year-long extension to both unemployment insurance and the payroll tax cut, not two months. However, I am doubtful of their truthiness on this. The refusal of Senate Republicans to tax the rich “to pay for” these benefits, and their demands that the pollution-expanding Tar Sands Pipeline from Canada to Texas ignore rulings and warnings from the EPA, are what caused the two-month compromise in the Senate to start with. 

We’re also stuck there because these same House Republicans injected a bottle of poison pills into their so-called year-long bill, including up to 40 fewer weeks of unemployment benefits, drug testing and educational requirements for recipients, delaying environmental standards, whacking federal workers and cutting implementation funds for the Affordable Care Act. Its more likely they could care less about the year versus two months timeline and want to torture the unemployed and working class with their “hungry dog hunts harder” philosophy, and are just looking for cover to keep from being run out of office by their unemployed, underemployed constituents.

I am aware – especially living in West Virginia – that confronting the carbon pollution blackmail from the Republicans on the Tar Sands Pipeline issue may seem like a second tier issue to some. And I understand jobs are so scarce in many areas that an offer to build gallows on which we will be hanged could begin to look attractive, but if we don’t rethink this global warming question pretty soon, Noah is going to start getting calls from God to build another ark, and numbers I do not want to contemplate will perish.
A news flash indicates the House has now defeated the Senate Bill. The Senate is already adjourned and homeward bound for Christmas. As Jared Bernstein writes, “all America can see right now is an unbelievably feckless Congress underperforming expectations that are already abysmally low.”

There’s a rising likelihood now that the unemployment insurance extensions and payroll tax cut expire. Some fools are saying, “Hey, it won’t be so bad if we rush back in January and pass them … We can make them retroactive.” I can’t even imagine the levels of panic and apprehension that will grip working-class families over the holiday contemplating such hogwash.

Almost 2 million unemployment recipients could be dropped from the rolls. And most of them have been jobless for at least half a year, so it’s unlikely they’ve got resources to fall back on. In my hometown, public and charity food programs are receiving fourfold more requests for help over last year.

Also, businesses will have to have to adjust payrolls to plug back in the 2 percent payroll tax cut that expires at the end of this year.

Dysfunction, thy name is the 112th Congress. Maybe the right name is “nullification,” like the Southern fire-breathers who used similar tactics to defy federal authority over slave states.


John Case
John Case

John Case is a former electronics worker and union organizer with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE), also formerly a software developer, now host of the WSHC "Winners and Losers" radio program in Shepherdstown, W.Va.