Last Sunday a bipartisan compromise that would extend unemployment insurance for long-term jobless workers and a payroll tax cut for 160 million workers passed the Senate 89-10 with 39 Republican votes. Before the vote, Republican House Speaker John Boehner assured GOP senators that he supported the compromise.
Only hours after the Senate vote, when the Republican tea party gang expressed their opposition, Boehner started singing a different song and announced he was opposing the compromise. He blocked an up for down vote and 229 House Republicans voted, in effect, to kill the Senate compromise through parliamentary trickery.
Like bats out of hell, the Republicans then fled the nation’s capital and headed home to celebrate Christmas and the coming of the New Year.
As the GOP lawmakers fled home for the holidays, the nightmares they have been causing for Americans turned into rock hard reality.
In a little more than a week, 160 million employees will start receiving smaller paychecks. Over the year 2012 they will, on average, take home $1,000 less than they did in 2011. And that’s if they are lucky enough to be working at all.
In just 11 days, 1.8 million people will lose their only lifeline – their unemployment checks. For many, homes will be lost. Others will go without food, heat, lights or new clothing for the children. The smaller paychecks for those who are working and no checks for the long-term jobless will also result in the entire economy shrinking even further. The result: An economy even more blighted with additional businesses closing down and even more people out of work.
The Republican House cabal explained away their crime of not even allowing a vote on the Senate compromise bill by saying the House passed a bill, and now the thing to do is go to committee to iron out the differences between the two.
Sending it to a joint committee is just a ploy. Thirty-nine Republican senators voted for the Senate bill, which is considered the real compromise.
But if it did go to committee what did the House pass that the Senate didn’t? For starters, the House voted to cut the unemployment benefits extension by more than half.
They voted to extend the payroll tax cut, but rather than financing it with a small tax on millionaires, it slashes federal workers’ pay! How do you compromise with that? You can’t.
Supporting the House attack on the “middle class” was the Republican frontrunner for the presidency, Mitt Romney. But in typical Repub-speak Romney twisted the facts to continue his party’s class war on the 99%.
“Obama goes after insurance company executives, Wall Street, all these bad people he finds out there. Look, Americans are not going to be a powerful and vibrant economic engine with a powerful middle class if we attack one another,” he said.
Oh really? The president gets attacked for making speeches. But here’s a whole lot of actual class war action being waged by the Republicans.
This Republican crime should not be allowed to stand. We know, however, the Constitution does not allow the people to do what would be morally justified: Hauling back to Washington the 229 Republicans who are at home celebrating while the nation suffers and demanding that they vote up or down on the Senate extension bill.
The Constitution does allow the people, however, to utilize the year 2012 to remove from office every last one of the GOP “lawmakers” who were party to this crime. There is no better time than now, as the New Year approaches, for everyone to resolve that 2012 is the year every single one of them will be kicked out of office.
Only then can the American people even have a chance at fixing this dysfunctional situation, and constructing a government of, by and for the people.
Photo: A one-arm homeless man looks down on a tattered Christmas tree as first sun hits the loading dock where he and half-dozen other homeless people live. (Sal Veder/AP)