We couldn't agree more, but we'd like to remind Mr. Cantor that he is Washington. He is one of the leaders of one of the Houses of Congress. His House, his Party is blocking a bill that they claim to support. His Party, his House is blocking a tax cut, tax cuts being one of the main ideas that his party claims to support. His Party, his House is blocking a bill that his Party passed in the Senate. His Party, his House is splitting and turning on itself to oppose his Speaker and block this bill. In short, Eric Cantor is Washington. Mr. Cantor has the power to help resolve this situation.
Mr. Cantor people across America are scratching their heads at you. We are wondering what Mr. Cantor, the Tea Party and the Republicans are doing.
This is just the latest example of what is arguably the historically greatest do nothing congress we have ever seen. In the middle of the greatest economic downturn since the great depression, the GOP / Tea Party response has been to do nothing. Their response time and again, issue by issue, has simply been "no".
If not for the fact that we are all living through this nightmare, it would be funny to note that the House spent much of it's time in 2011 passing ideological bills that they knew would never pass the Senate, and the Senate spent much of it's time filibustering bills they thought stood a reasonable chance of passing an up or down vote. The end result? A year full of nothing.
Since it is the holiday season, let's make a list and check it twice, of all the things the GOP/Tea Party combo gave us this year:
1. The GOP Blocked the Creation of Jobs: The GOP and Tea Party literally refused to allow a vote on the American Jobs Act. After running on “jobs, jobs, jobs” the GOP and Tea Party have effectively done worse than nothing, they have stood in the way of job creation by blocking the President's job plan. Not only did they block the plan itself, they also filibustered the individual pieces of the plan 3 separate times preventing them from even coming up for a vote.
2. The Fake Debt Ceiling Crisis: The GOP with the help of the Tea Party created a fake crisis consuming a significant amount of time and effort to solve a non-problem that really just distracted us from focusing on jobs.
3. Voted to Increase the Deficit and End Medicare As We Know It: The Paul Ryan Budget passed in the house failed to address the causes of the deficit, but it did address a bunch of ideological targets of the right. Don't forget the added bonus of ending Medicare as we know it. Oh, and the deficit hawk GOP budget would actually increase the deficit by $3 to $6 Trillion.
4. Fighting Against The Free Market: The GOP voted against the free market when they fought to extend the $40 billion in subsidies to oil companies Never mind that this industry is well established and highly profitable earning $38 billion in profits in the first quarter of 2011 alone. Big Oil and the GOP will not have free markets when there are subsidies to be had.
5. Voter Suppression: The GOP led by their new Tea Party members in states across the nation fought to suppress the vote in 34 states with new legislation. An independent study found that the new voter suppression laws could affect up to 5 million voters and nearly two thirds of the electoral votes in the upcoming presidential election.
6. Crushing Labor: Ignoring the facts and data, the GOP and Tea Party went straight to work further weakening the middle class by attacking labor unions in states across the nation. The most memorable example taking place in Wisconsin.
7. Dissolving Freely Elected Governments: In Michigan the GOP and Tea Party passed into law the ability to replace freely elected city and county governments and replace them with individuals and companies appointed by the governor. Out with elections, in with outside appointees.
8. Fighting Against Tax Cuts: After spending last Christmas fighting for tax cuts for the wealthy which result in increases in the deficit, the GOP is spending this Christmas fighting against the Payroll Tax Extension for the middle class.
9. Big Intrusive Government: In Florida the small government GOP and Tea Party went super big government by requiring mandatory drug testing for anyone receiving government benefits. Thankfully, Florida did discover one important thing, that the poor and recipients of government benefits are actually less likely to use drugs than the national average. Recently GOP and Tea Party House members sought to verify these findings by trying to pass a similar measure at the national level for recipients of unemployment benefits.
10. Repeatedly Voted To Increase Unintended Pregnancies and Worse: Research shows that abortions increase when unintended pregnancies increase. Unintended pregnancies increase when people have restricted access to birth control and family planning. The GOP and Tea Party at both the state and national level passed law after law and measure after measure to defund groups like Planned Parenthood and restrict access to birth control. Thankfully, many of these measures were defeated.
11. Superfluous Votes: Rather than spend time focused on the issues that confront our nation, like jobs and serious deficit reduction the GOP and Tea Party spent their time reaffirming "In god we trust" as our national motto and voting on a measure to install a bust of Winston Churchhill in the Capitol. Regrettably they couldn’t find the time to vote on the American Jobs Act.
12. Fought To Ensure The Next Recession: The GOP and Tea Party members like Congressman Grimm fought hard to ensure that any regulation targeted at protecting the economy from future recessions like the one we are currently experiencing are eliminated. Congressman Grimm for example, introduced legislation to virtually eliminate whistleblowers’ ability to report fraud and abuse on Wall Street.
This isn't intended to be a complete list of the GOP / Tea Party achievements. I'm sure you have your favorites. Feel free to post them below.
The 2010 GOP Contract From America
What's amazing about the list above isn't just how bad these things are for our nation, but also that they literally violate so many aspects of “The Contract From America” that the GOP and Tea Party ran on. A compelling case can be made that they violated the following provisions:
1. Individual Liberty: Items 5, 7, 9.
2. Limited Government: Items 4, 5, 7 and 9 all violate this clause.
3. Economic Freedom: items 6 and 8 violate this clause.
4. Protect the Constitution: Items 5, 6, 7 and 9 all violate this clause, and let us not forget the "indefinite detention" section of the Defense Reauthorization Act.
5. Restore Fiscal Responsibility: The Paul Ryan budget and the great Debt Ceiling debacle were anything but fiscally responsible and has been shown by independent review actually increase the deficit.
6. End Runaway Government Spending: Items 2, 4, 9 and 11 fly in the face of keeping government spending down.
7. Stop the Tax Hikes: Item 8, the fight for the Payroll Tax Cut Extension is just one example of how they violated this pledge.
This is just a cursory review, but it's easy to see that while the GOP and Tea Party spent most of the year obstructing our nation's progress with a record setting number of filibusters and political rancor, they still managed to violate most of their pledges and ideals while accomplishing almost nothing.
My hope is that in the new year we can move onto fact based decision making and honest policy based discussions. My guess is that we will find even more hyper-partisanship, rancor and gridlock. In that event, I hope we find ourselves with a slate of candidates for 2012 who will dedicate themselves to country first, party second so we only have to wait one more year before we can get serious about addressing the slew of issues we face as a nation.