This is my response to the GOP’s efforts to blame the economic slowdown on President Obama. For those who haven’t heard, apparently the GDP grew at the rate of only 1.5% from April through June, 2012. This is also reported as being down from 2.0% for the 3 prior months. I do not argue that, nor that it happened while Obama carries the title POTUS. However, last time I checked, the Executive branch does not have the power to unilaterally enact domestic policy. The President may write bills, and then sign them, but the important step is missing: both houses of Congress must sponsor the bill, Vote to dicuss/debate the bill, vote to close debate and either send it back to commitee or move to vote to approve the bill, and then Vote on the bill. Both houses then must agree on any variances that are approved in the other house before the President may enact the bill. So, is it really the President’s fault that the Federal Government has done next to nothing to address the economy?
Before we can answer that, we must look at what has been happening in the last 3 months. The President has mentioned several ways to help, one of which was adopted by the Senate, and passed that house… in July. Democrats in Congress want to keep the Bush era tax laws in place for another year for those making up to 200,000 USD a year, or 250,000 USD for married couples filing jointly. Meawhile, republicans want everyone to continue to enjoy those tax cuts: Those making 0 to 250,000 USD, and those making more than 250,000 USD. I write it that way so I can then ask you to draw a Venn Diagram – think the MasterCard logo so we may compare and contrast these opinions. Draw the 2 partially overlapping cicles. In the left, write “Let the Bush era tax cuts expire on the wealthy”. Got it? Great. Now in its mirrored section on the right, add the phrase “Keep the current taxes on the wealthy”. Done? Excellent! Now in that football shaped middle section, write “keep the current tax rates on the middle and lower class”. Finished? Perfect!
Now if you drew the diagram the same way I did, you’d have very large areas for the left and right, and a small section in the middle. (You would also have the left side blue, the right side red, and the middle being purple.) This, while meets the basic purpose, is not quite right, unless you’re trying to show how the house might vote on the Senate’s bill. What you need to do is make the circles overlap almost as much as possible, leaving just about, say, 1% on either side. That’s better. This now reflects the ammount of people who would be effected by the commonalities, and the differences. The realatively massive center is the majority of people, the 99% if you will. The area of disagreement is enormous compared to the differences. Yet the house republicans would rather vote on repealling ACA (aka Obamacare) at least 33 times instead of discussing the economy. Remember, the Senate republicans were generous to allow the Senate bill to actually get a vote knowing the house would never pass it. So, the house majority, the GOP, refuses to allow the vote or they may eventually allow it then strike it down in a strictly partyline vote. Basically, the GOP is blocking legislation that will benefit that big purple blob because of the thin little red or blue slivers on the outside. I have a guess as to why and also why they most likely won’t let it get to a vote before election day.
First off, they don’t care about the middle class, nor do they care about cutting taxes, despite what they say. Common sense says pass what you can agree on now that will help the majority of people and then work on mitigating the differences. Letting the subtle differences prevent any bill from passing is essentially being the cause of raising taxes on all people, not just the wealthy. Voting for the Senate bill does not say the opposite however. It says I’m going to help as many people as I can, and those I can’t right now, I will continue to try and help them out too. Voting for the middle and lower class extension does not equate to voting for raising taxes on the wealthy.
Secondly, the GOP does not care about anyone but themselves. This is proven in two ways. FIrst is the 33+ votes on repealling ACA which I mentioned earlier. The other is part of the reason they do not want to approve the extention on the poor without including the wealthy. All congressional members have at least 174,000 reasons not to. That’s their personal salary. As most of them also have other sources of income either through their spouses, books, and other revenue streams, they make more that the 200/250K cutoff. They are the wealthy. Add it the decision maker for what gets presented to the House floor, the Speaker of the House, who has 223,500 reasons to oppose the bill without cutting the wealthy a break. That’s right, by merit of being the Speaker, and 3rd in the Presidential line of succession, you become that sliver on the outside of our diagrams.
Third reason – and why it won’t come to a vote: The GOP knows that this vote is toxic to the swing vote moderates who decide to vote becuase of, or vote explicitly on, issues. If the house votes on a bill to extend the tax cuts on the lower and middle classes before the election they will shoot themselves in the foot one way or another, regardless of the outcome. By voting against the bill, they vote to raise taxes on the majority of Americans on the principle they do not want to raise taxes on the wealthy/themselves exclusively. If the vote for it, they hand Obama and their democrat counterparts a political win, because the spin on voting to help the majority of people at the cost of the wealthy, does not play well with the wealthy who bankroll their campaigns.
Now to make full circle back to the primary purpose of this article: Is the President at fault for the lack of government action on the economy? The answer is undeniably “No, he is not.” Why? Because the congress is, and more specifically, the House Majority. Ironically, the staunches republicans also tout being of good Christian Faith (or at least of good faith in one of the Abrahamic religions). Allow me a quote from the King James Bible, Matthew 5:30, “And if your right hand causes you to offend, cut it off, and cast it from you: for it is better for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell.” Basically translates to the great Vulcan quote, “The good of the many out weighs the good of the few, or the one” -Spock, the Wrath of Khan, while going on to say hurt the few if it will save the majority. Similar passages are scattered throughout the Gospel according to Matthew. So a good Christian, voting on their religous beliefs, would support helping the majority of people even if it means cutting out the minority. Yet they refuse.
If the republican GOP really thinks that the majority of Americans can not see through their schemes, they must think that we are truly inept. And if they prove to be right on that matter come November, then we the people will reap the idiocy that we sow.