By Clark Hopper
This past week Speaker of the House John Boehner (R- OH) left Washington D.C. with his tail between his legs, after having to cancel the vote on his own Plan B. Boehner’s tearful announcement that numerous fellow Republican legislators refused to vote for his Plan B found little sympathy! Boehner showed a failure to lead by blaming the lack of support for Plan B on President Obama. Instead of blaming the failure on the President, Boehner should have swallowed his pride, changed his tactic and immediately scheduled a meeting with the President to regroup and address the looming fiscal cliff. Instead, he went home and dumped his responsibility on Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to come up with an agreement with President Obama and the Senate!
In actuality, Boehner and the Republican House totally disregarded the wishes of the American People again! Plan B was a total farce designed to divert America’s attention. A majority of legislators, Democrat and Republican, voted and passed legislation replacing funding of major cuts in the Budget Control Act of 2011, forcing the reduction of America’s budget deficit!
GOP House bill (HR6684) was approved last week to “repeal” about $110 billion in across the board cuts, (Budget Control Act of 2011) in military and domestic spending starting with a new 2013 round of domestic spending cuts. Sponsored by Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI.), the bill’s main purpose was to head off $55 billion in automatic defense cuts over one year, under the sequester rules of the 2011 Budget Control Act. The bill would also repeal one year’s worth of domestic cuts set to begin January 3, 2013 under the sequester
This bill would make new cuts in domestic programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and the 2010 Affordable Health Care Act. The bill’s net effect would be to achieve $236 billion in domestic spending cuts over 10 years, about 92 percent would come from entitlement programs, while protecting the defense budget for one year against automatic cuts under the sequester. The Budget Control Act of 2011 would save an estimated $756 billion!
Republican leaders offered the bill as a tactic in their “fiscal cliff” negotiations with President Obama. They paired it with a bill known as “Plan B” to permanently lock in Bush-era tax cuts for incomes under $1 million, while allowing taxes to rise on higher incomes. They thought the Republican regular members would be more willing to raise taxes on millionaires, if they could vote to cut entitlements and domestic discretionary spending at the same time. Speaker Boehner pulled the tax rates half of the package when it became apparent he lacked enough Republican votes to pass it! Apparently, U.S. Representatives Rick Crawford (R-AR), Steve Womack, (R-AR) and Tim Griffin, (R-AR) failed to acknowledge the changes demanded by America’s recent national election and all voted for passage of this bill. Let me remind them they are up for reelection in 2014, their voting report card will be graded pass or fail by the people they are supposed to support!
A Democratic bid to repeal tax breaks for the five largest oil companies and use the savings to soften entitlement cuts in HR6684 failed 179-243. The motion would have required the Department of Health and Human Services’ website to post information on how those cuts in the social safety net would affect constituents in each of the 435 congressional districts! The oil companies BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell receive about $4 billion annually in federal tax breaks. Chris Van Hollen, (D-MD) said oil companies should not be subsidized at a time when “their profits are going through the roof and we have before us a bill that removes about 300,000 kids from the school lunch program and about 300,000 kids from the Children’s Health Insurance Program in the 2015, according to the Congressional Budget Office.” Yes, you guessed it, Arkansas Republican Representatives Crawford, Womack and Griffin voted for big campaign donators and against voter wishes!
If these actions sound familiar, they are reminiscent of Mitt Romney and his comments of not caring about the 47 percent! Under this bill, Republicans will be responsible for 1.8 million Americans permanently losing their food assistance and nearly 300,000 children will lose their school lunch program!
Why is the Republican controlled House trying to change the sequestered rules Congress passed in 2011, designed to reduce America’s national deficit reduction? America spends more money on military defense than the next 13 largest countries combined, when our children have no food to eat. Defense funding should be reduced, because past foreign conflicts have ended and more are scheduled to end in 2014. Congress needs to address creating
American jobs, infrastructure disrepair and domestic programs instead of sticking their nose in other countries wars and wasting our tax dollars to fund war machine industries.
Evidently, “We the People” did not make a strong enough impression on some Congressmen to include Arkansas Representatives Crawford, Womack, and Griffin in the recent national election. The next election will be coming up in 2014 and we need to make the message clear this time and vote them out!
The opinions discussed in this column are my opinions alone and not those of the entire Saline County Democratic Central Committee.