New Congressional Motto: Country Last

The Senate passed the Biden/McConnell compromise bill last night. Now, it has to go to the House of Representatives.

Among other things, the bill delays some of the decisions that have been holding things up for two months. In other words, our elected leaders plan to put themselves and this country through this again in two months. All because they couldn’t manage to do their jobs now.

Evidently, if  Vice President Biden didn’t have the personal relationships with various senators that he does, we wouldn’t even have this compromise. The message in this, so far as I’m concerned, is that maybe civility does have a place in better government. This hate-filled what’s-in-it-for-me brinksmanship certainly isn’t doing us much good.

An ABC News article that explains the real issues behind this fight surprisingly well says in part:

Going over the “fiscal cliff” may seem irresponsible and self-destructive for the nation as a whole, but it’s a politically logical, self-preserving step for many individual lawmakers.

They come from districts where ideological voters abhor tax hikes, or spending cuts, that anybipartisan compromise must include. Many of these voters detest compromise itself, telling elected officials to stick to partisan ideals or be gone.

That’s why the fiscal cliff is just one in a continuing string of wrenching, demoralizing impasses on tax-and-spending showdowns, which threaten the nation’s economic recovery.

A breach of the fiscal cliff’s midnight deadline became inevitable late Monday when House leaders said they couldn’t keep waiting for the Senate to send a bill their way. The House may reconvene in a day or two to vote on a White House-blessed deal to curtail the new package of tax hikes and spending cuts, which technically start with the new year. But it’s painfully apparent that partisan warfare sent the government past a line that could alarm financial markets and further undermine faith in America’s leaders, at home and abroad.

Meanwhile, the political realities that made a bigger solution impossible will not change any time soon. That raises red flags for upcoming fiscal clashes, especially the need to raise the government’s borrowing limit in a few months to avoid defaulting on federal debt …

… The vast majority of congressional Republicans have vowed never to approve higher tax rates. It’s no idle promise. Many of them preferred to let the fiscal cliff deadline pass, causing tax rates to rise on nearly all American workers, at least for a time. Then, presumably this week, they can vote to cut taxes for around 98 percent of Americans, rather than vote in December to raise rates on the richest 2 percent and avoid the cliff. (Read more here.)

What that last paragraph means is that the House Republicans have deliberately left the country go past the fiscal cliff. The reason is that, since the effect of doing this is an automatic raise in taxes on ordinary Americans, they will be voting for a tax cut when they pass the Senate compromise bill.

It’s all a shell game designed to let them say that they voted to cut taxes on their campaign pieces. That’s why they’re putting this country through this.

A CNN article describing the compromise bill and the legislative process it faces says in part:

(CNN) – If a Senate deal to avert the fiscal cliff becomes law, all but a sliver of the U.S. population will avoid higher tax rates, some key issues will be put off for two months, and all sides in the battle will emerge with a mixed record: winning key points, while ceding ground on others.

The deal, which passed the Democratic-controlled Senate in an overwhelming 89-8 vote in the middle of the night, would maintain tax cuts for individuals earning less than $400,000 and couples earning less than $450,000. Technically, it would reinstate cuts that expired at midnight.

It would raise tax rates for those over those levels — marking the first time in two decades the rates jump for the wealthiest Americans.

The bill faces an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled House. GOP members planned to meet at 1 p.m., two aides told CNN.

“The purpose of this meeting is to review what the Senate has passed, discuss potential options, and seek member feedback. No decision on the path forward is expected before another member meeting that will be held later today,” one GOP leadership aide said. (Read more here.)

  • Manny

    Oh don’t blame it just on the Republicans. That’s the mainstream media meme that’s tired itself out. Where are THE SPENDING CUTS? Negotiations involves both sides. I have yet to see real spending cuts. Throughout the years when there is a deficit issue, it’s always start with tax increases and maybe we’ll get around to the cuts. Bull doody. We on the right are tired of that crap. Until real cuts happen I won’t support tax increases on anyone. And I’m not in that rich catagory.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Manny, I knew you would jump in here with that. I don’t just blame the Republicans for this mess. I have no problems blaming the Democrats, when I think they’re wrong. I criticized the president earlier for linking the fiscal cliff to other issues. However, it was the House Republicans who pushed this country past this deadline.

      • Manny

        They did push us to this, and I agree they were wrong. But like I’ve said in your blog before this one (and I haven’t gotten back to see if you replied) we should never have come to this cliff. It seems the Republicans have to bite the bullet on losing and it wasn’t a problem they created and they are only one third of the the elected government. The Republicans have put out multiple budgets for the the passed three years and the Democrats while being in two thirds control have punted. And we get the blame?

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          I think the mistake here is in the word “we.” I don’t think you’re one of these people Manny, and I don’t think they have your interests at heart. I’m talking about both parties. The truth is, that both parties care more about their party than they do this country, and that is one of the roots of this problem. I think we need to stop defending our political parties and demand that both of them move beyond their partisan claptrap and take care of this country.

  • Dave

    Somehow the country survived for 130 without any federal income tax at all. Maybe, just maybe, the federal government needs to shrink instead of increasing the parasitical suction on American taxpayers. Agree with Manny….we need substantial spending cuts or else our country is doomed, sooner or later (probably sooner.) The problem is that the parties can never agree on what to cut, so the foolish status quo continues.

    • Thomas R

      I think before the income tax we had high tariffs. That wouldn’t work so well in this era as we’re much more important to the global economy than we were in 1870 or whatever.

  • Will

    From my center-left point of view, we need a mix of higher revenue and budget cuts. We cannot continue the defense spending we have. Can we cut some Social Security and Medicare , as some want, without significantly lowering the quality of life for seniors or future seniors? There is no real discussion, just political posturing. Why is there no middle ground? Why are there only attacks on others?

    • Dave

      We need to cut across the board, and defense probably needs to be cut more than many areas. I’m not really sure what to do about Social Security and Medicare. All I know is that as the elderly to worker ratio goes way up due to people having less children, the programs are going to become more and more unsustainable. We’re already in a position with our current debt that 20% of our national budget may have to go to interest on the debt by 2022, and that’s without running up more debt and that’s also assuming interest rates stay low! I just don’t see how this is going to turn out well, to be honest. There’s a good chance it’s already too late mathematically speaking – I hope I am wrong.

  • neenergyobserver

    I agree, not surprisingly, with most of the commenters here but, I also think this: Since when a cut in spending a cut in the INCREASE in spending. We need serious spending cuts, ALL entitlement (if there should be any at all) need to be at the state level, end the income tax, and if necessary raise the tariff again. The reason it was high was to stimulate American manufactures and we are again a raw material producers, not a manufacturing country in any meaningful sense.

    Obviously we need to meet our commitment to people of roughly 50 and over (although the perceptive ones of us in that demographic realize that our stipend will most likely be worthless anyway until the government decides to let us die) but federal subsidies of everything need to stop, both to encourage commerce, you know create wealth, and slow down corruption.

    There’s much more to this-too much for a post let alone a comment but, if we want to keep up with countries like the Philippines that’s what we need to do.

  • Bill S

    This is a taboo, but I’ll bring it up anyway. One thing we need to learn to do in this country is stop spending billions of dollars trying to artificially prolong the lives of patients against their will. I don’t mean that we should kill people who are too old and sick for us to keep paying to take care of them. I mean letting people die naturally without using extraordinary means at great expense and suffering caused by the medical profession’s refusal to do so. I know this conjures up accusations of euthanasia and the culture of death but I see the need for people to change their attitudes toward death and dying. Of course, it is political suicide to bring it up, so no one talks about it.

  • Patty

    I agree that the big issue is cuts and for some reason politicians spend like there is no tomorrow (at this rate this may prove true). But cutting defense even more would be a big mistake. As someone who is a part of the military family, I have seen what cuts can do. Be shrinking our military we are putting our country at risk and I for one would rather see some of the “entitlement programs” cut but from what I understand most programs are controlled by the states with only Federal help, correct me if I am wrong. Some of these programs double dip, a person getting food stamps is also eligible to get WIC (Women, Infants and Children program in PA), with WIC they get milk, bread, fruits and vegetables and bread, cheese, peanut butter, etc. Isn’t taht what food stamps are for? another big cut would be in government overspending, eliminating jobs that are only taking up space beginning with the so called czars. But I did call it, everyone gets a tax increase – add the federal to the local and state increases plus the trickle down effect from businesses raising prices to cover the increase in payroll taxes and the new medical mandates etc…my husband military retirement increase of $25 monthly and social security (don’t know how little that is yet), and my small pay increase for taking on another job at work (now I am doing the job of two people) and won’t even come close to covering it. Don’t even get me started on their pay raises, So yes, I agree with this title, it is country last – themselves first.