And over the cliff we go…
Early on Monday, it appeared that a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff was within sight. President Obama agreed to spending cuts, including cuts in entitlement spending. Many Democrats weren’t happy that Obama evidently agreed to a change in the way inflation is calculated for adjusting federal benefits. Obama also moved on his prior insistence that tax rates go up for all earners over $250,000, raising that number to $400,000. John Boehner finally gave in and agreed that tax rates would have to rise for high earners. With the moves from Obama and Boehner, on Monday, a deal appeared imminent.
Then, within the course of a few hours, John Boehner caved to the conservative nutjobs that control the Republican Party. Suddenly Boehner’s “Plan B” appeared, where Republicans would unilaterally pass legislation in the House that extended tax cuts for everyone making less than $1 million a year. It was purely a political ploy, as passage of such a bill in the House would only serve as a political tool Republicans could wield in trying to convince the public they were being reasonable on fiscal cliff negotiations.
Yesterday, Boehner pulled “Plan B” in the House and adjourned for the holidays. They couldn’t even get enough votes within their own party to pass the legislation. One and a half months after a disaster of an election for Republicans, and they still haven’t seemed to have gotten the message that the political winds have changed. Republicans are still allowing the radical conservative wing of the party to dictate the party’s direction.
Why are we in this mess? Why, with months to find a solution to this mess, are we about to merrily tumble over the fiscal cliff, even when politicians know the severe harm it will cause to our economy? Look no further than our non-representative House of Representatives.
Conservatives constantly point to the Constitution and our founding fathers on issues such as gun rights and other issues. I wonder what the founding fathers would think of today’s political system that allows for a House of Representatives to be composed of a NON-representative suite of politicians. Even with the political and economic headwinds against him, Obama decisively beat Romney. Even with Democrats defending many more seats than Republicans, Democrats managed to GAIN seats in the Senate. In the House? DEMOCRATIC HOUSE CANDIDATES RECEIVED MORE VOTES IN THE HOUSE THAN DID REPUBLICAN HOUSE CANDIDATES!!! Yet thanks to a system that allows state legislatures to gerrymander House districts, Republican-controlled states managed to game the system and send more Republican House members to Washington than the vote of the American people would imply.
In short, our House of Representatives is anything BUT representative. The American people are strongly siding with Obama’s positions in the fiscal cliff negotiations. But thanks to gerrymandered House districts that allowed Republicans to control the House, despite receiving a minority of the votes, fiscal cliff negotiations are going nowhere. Gun control legislation will go nowhere, despite the tragedy in Newtown. ANY significant legislation is likely to go nowhere over the next 2 years, thanks to a Republican-controlled House who continues to insist on defying the voice of the American people, and instead focus on the path set forward by the hyper-radical conservative wing of their party.
Given what happened in the November election, given that the American people are behind him on the fiscal cliff issue, and given all the political clout Obama SHOULD have on the fiscal cliff issue, Obama has gone much further to meet Republicans in these negotiations than many think he needed to go. But here we are 10 days away from tumbling over the cliff, and our non-representative House of Representatives have walked out on the Obama/Boehner negotiations, and have adjourned for the holidays. Boehner even had the gall to say that it’s “now up to Obama and Harry Reid” to pass legislation to avoid the fiscal cliff. WHAT THE HELL?? Republicans close up shop and leave Washington, and then have the guts to say it’s up to Obama and Harry Reid to solve this?
I hope the American people are paying attention. In general, in mid-term elections, the president’s party losing seats in Congress. I hope the American people say enough is enough in 2014, and, despite the gerrymandered districts, move us towards a more representative House of Representatives. As it stands now, a handful of right-wing nutjobs are about to send the entire American economy over the cliff.