On January 1, 2013, the US senate passed legislation that prevented the US from driving off the fiscal cliff and in doing so, prevented taxes from going up on 98% of Americans, most of whom are in the middle class. The bill passed with an overwhelming and unusually bipartisan majority of 89 to 8 vote. As if to accentuate the bipartisan nature of this landmark event, three of the eight “no” votes were from democrats!
Those old enough to remember the administrations that preceded the GW Bush will recall a time when both houses of congress dealt with issues on the basis of compromise and give-and-take negotiations to arrive at a finished product both parties could support, even if neither side was completely satisfied. This had been how the US government conducted business since its inception. And although the US senate had increasingly degenerated over the past 12 years into a polarized body more interested in “my way or the highway”, at least when the USA (and as a consequence, much of the world economy) had its back to the wall in the final hours, the senate acted to avert disaster in the the only way it possibly could: compromise and bipartisanship.
Not so the US House of Representatives.
That chamber suffered an infestation of newly-elected Tea Party candidates in 2010, some of whom only had until this Thursday before they are replaced by those who beat them in last November’s elections. They have continuously appeared to be deaf to the will of the people as expressed in the last election and continuing national polls. They have insisted upon standing firm against ANY compromise, even one to prevent the USA from going over the fiscal cliff.
Although the senate-passed bill finally passed the House after 9pm last night by a 257-167 vote, only 85 republicans voted in favor of the bill; fully 151 republicans voted against it!
Those folks who voted to have taxes rise on 98% of Americans (who are now covered by the legislation they voted AGAINST) seem to think that Grover Norquist, the anti-tax guru pagan god of the Tea Party is the second coming of the messiah. yet, if they paid even cursory attention to the news, they’d know that Norquist endorsed the legislation as “not in conflict with the anti tax pledge” he has blackmailed most republican congresspeople into signing.
These Tea-Party-infected folks also believed that it would have been better for the USA to drive over the cliff, seriously crippling the US and global economy, critically injuring the US stock market, having taxes rise on the 98% of Americans that that the bill now protects, abruptly shutting down unemployment benefits, and dramatically reduce or end health care benefits to the poor among other self-inflicted wounds, than to deny tax breaks to the very rich. They also hated that the promised spending cuts, which must now be negotiated and passed within the next two months, weren’t included in the bill NOW!
They didn’t care that many Americans would suffer for the weeks or months it would take to forge a spending reduction agreement with democrats, if in fact such an agreement between ultra-conservative extreme-right-wing Tea Baggers and congressional democrats was even possible. Remember, the baggers’ first manta is “my way or the highway”. They also bore no responsibility whatsoever for the fact that for the 16 months they’ve known this issue (fiscal cliff) was barreling down the road, they did absolutely NOTHING to produce a passable fix.. After all, it’s the House that’s responsible for budget legislation.
Nope. The Tea Baggers were too busy trying to convince voters to vote for people who think that rape is “God’s will”, or that raped women don’t get pregnant, or that global warming is a hoax, or that school prayer prevents school massacres by crazed assault-rifle-toting assassins, or that homosexuality can be “cured” with prayer-based therapy, or that same-sex couples should be hunted, not married, or that the richer the wealthy become, the better off the middle class will be, or that the Earth is 6000 years old and Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs (naked, mind you), until they were kicked out of the garden of Eden for accessing knowledge (brought on by the the stone-aged version of Wikipedia, known then simply as “Apple”).
Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Express reacted angrily to the passage of the bill. “There will be consequences!“, she threatened. And Mike Kibbe, president of tea party-affiliated Freedomworks, called passage of the bill an “epic fail”, adding, “If Congressional leadership fails to do the bare minimum to secure our economic future, then we will find someone that will,”
Meanwhile, the Dow Jones rose over 308 points today. So much for business hating the bill, huh?
Y’know…watching Tea Party leaders condemn the GOP leadership (their ex-lovers) is a little like watching late-night porn, isn’t it?