By Joan Trossman Bien
They Were Late for a Very Important Date
What is wrong with the Republican Party leaders? Have they completely lost their minds? When they finally were shoved out of the way, late last Tuesday night, the Senate passed the “fiscal cliff” bill by 89-8. Too bad it was after the deadline had passed.
The Tea Party-infused House showed up even later. After more than a year to get this done, they didn’t. Even after the deadline had passed, with global markets holding their breath, these guys were still speechifying and hogging the spotlight, like a bunch of spoiled children.
House Majority leader Eric Cantor put his dazzling leadership skills on display saying, “I don’t like it.” So who really does? As is often said, if both parties dislike an agreement, then it has found the middle.
At the thirteenth hour, the House passed the bill, as is, 257-167 with a lot of Republican support.
Apparently, having more than 300 million Americans hate your guts was too much even for some Tea Party stalwarts. Could this issue not have been resolved before it threatened to devour our economy?
So what is really the problem? It is the Tea Party and the fear they have instilled in their own leaders. But the days of Republicans marching in lockstep as if all of their brains had been wired together like “The Borg” from Star Trek are numbered.
Fellow Republicans voiced their disgust with the Tea Party. Out-going Ohio Republican Congressman Steve La Tourette said, “It’s the continuing dumbing down of the Republican Party and we are going to be seen more and more as a bunch of extremists.”
La Tourette then pointed to “forty chuckleheads that all year…have screwed this place up.”
Charlie Christ, former Republican governor of Florida as recently as 2010, explained why he is now a Democrat.
“What changed is the leadership of the Republican Party…I didn’t leave the Republican Party, it left me.”
Bruce Bartlett, a prominent political advisor to Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush, vented about the recent changes in the Party.
“The Republican Party was the Party of ideas and now it’s the party of crazy people, ignorant Tea Party people – people who know nothing and are proud of it.”
The Real Reason
Rightwing activist and power broker Grover Norquist once said, “My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”
For 20 years, Norquist has been the bully behind the “no new taxes” pledge. He made good on his threat to get rid of Republicans who refused to go along with him. He was feared. And you thought Republicans took the pledge because they actually believed in something.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, was furious with Congress for failing to vote through an aid package for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
“Americans are tired of the palace intrigue and political partisanship of this Congress which places one-upmanship ahead of the lives of the citizens…There is only one group to blame for the continuing suffering of these innocent victims: the House majority and their Speaker John Boehner.”
Perhaps these leaders will finally hear the truth and actually do their jobs when it comes time to cut spending and raise the debt limit. Or not.
Joan Trossman Bien has been writing news most of her professional life. She started writing as an intern at KNX Newsradio and wrote as a freelancer at nearly every television station in Los Angeles. She graduated from law school in 2004. At present, she is a regular writer for cover features at the Ventura County Reporter and Pasadena Weekly. She enjoys writing about an array of topics including health care, politics, women’s issues, and social justice. Bien lives with her journalist husband in Ventura County. They have one grown daughter who is also a journalist. Bien hales from Glencoe, Ill., a small suburb outside Chicago.
You are dead on about Republicans but way off the mark when it comes to the fiscal cliff. Since when does markets holding their breath mean anything to the 99%? It would have been better to go off the curb, not cliff, and finally whack some defense dollars. And everyone, if the precious middle class, is going to have to pony up. But no. We got nothing.
We are immeasurably worse off. It was a complete failure. What did we want out of this? The president wanted a balance deal with some tax increases and some spending cuts. We didn’t get a balanced deal. There were no real spending cuts. Second, we we could have done something to address our long-term debt. That was the whole purpose behind this whole thing.
We did nothing to address our long-term debt and almost nothing to reduce deficits over the next 10 years. We could have had a stimulus package to have some short-term economic growth, which was talked about. We did nothing to do that. We did nothing to help reform entitlements.
We could have put these endless budget fights behind us, so we could get on to talk about immigration. We didn’t do that either.
We’re going to have a reconciliation — or we’re going to have a sequestration fight, a debt ceiling fight. We’re going to spend the next months, at least, having these sorts of fights again and again and again.
So this deal, to me, fails on every single front and leaves us worse off. Other than that, and that irritating floating share button to the left, it is really refreshing to see The Post publish spirited pieces like Ms. Bien’s.
joan is spot on about the “chuckleheads.” i do not think the constitution wanted to ask our congress to enter their respective branches of government, melding their minds to one way of thinking. thinking means looking at all the diverse issues people of this country face each day, put yourself in their place, and try to make life better. instead we have both parties acting out of self interest in opposition to what the people they serve need from their government. where are the statesmen, the great wisdon, the years of experience getting things done? to leave the people suffering the effects of hurricane sandy without help and in shambles is a national disgrace. get your job done…we would be fired if we performed so poorly in the real world. people will remember in the next election what you did not do.
It’s sad when a few hold up the progress needed by the many. The Tea Party needs to be put in its place. Yes, we need to cut the deficit but we also need to take care of our own. Let’s take the ridiculous amount of money being spent on war and use it for those who need it — the American people. It is a national disgrace when the people affected by Hurricane Sandy were overlooked because the House leaders decided to shelve it. Excuse me? That’s not leadership. Boehner is a TERRIBLE Speaker and I was shocked he was re-elected to the post. Get something done, Congress!
Joan Bien is right on with her observations. Good to have her voice included in the publication.
Thanks Joan for this piece. I am hoping this is the beginning of the end of the right wing nuts, and that they will fall on their own sword as it were. One moment that exemplifies the stupidity of this party is when they would not ratify the UN treaty on disabilities due to their wacky and irrational notion that it would somehow pose a threat to US sovereignty. Modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, it merely says that nations should strive to afford disabled citizens the same rights as non-disabled. 155 nations signed on, but not us. Wince. What a humiliating day to be an American. I hope the rest of the nation wakes up to their lunacy, and soon.
The Los Angeles Post has given us a truly inspired gift: its excellent website now features Joan Trossman Bien! No one can dish it out with more clarity, purposefulness and sweetly executed wordplay than this amazing writer. I am lucky enough to have written with her and am even luckier to call her my friend. Allow me to add a few words to this debate: the fiscal cliff involved $110 billion right now cut that was avoided. How about we cut $565 BILLION over the next ten years that we fritter away on a weapons system we don’t and can’t use: nuclear weapons? Yes, that is the price tag, what with the modernization of these dangerous, civilization-ending relics aimed at exactly who? China, our creditor? Russia, who should be coddled as our natural ally? Al-Qaeda which is handled nicely by weaponized drones and awesome Seal teams? Next time you hear Republican’ts whine about entitlements, think about that half a TRILLION dollar savings from nukes that would be better spent on America’s people and environment. Kudos to the Los Angeles Post for scoring Joan as a columnist. Consider me a regular reader now.