The Christmas season is allegedly about giving without an expectation of recompense. In politics, representatives are not expected to give gifts to their constituents, but they are expected ensure that every citizen has opportunities to prosper without sacrificing something to a few wealthy elites. Republicans are notorious for tying legislation that helps the majority of Americans to some type of harmful legislation, and the current debate over extending the payroll tax cut for 160 million working Americans is their latest dispensation of damage. Republicans opposed the payroll tax cut extension last week, but they expressed interest in supporting the extension on Friday. When Representative Peter King (R-NY) was asked what changed House Republicans’ aversion to extending the payroll tax cut, he replied, “Christmas spirit.” Naturally, one would think that if Christmas spirit is involved with supporting the extension, Republicans would pass it without expectation of recompense because as President Obama said, passing it is “something House Republicans and Senate Republicans should want to do regardless of any other issues.”
On Friday, the GOP unveiled the cost to Americans for extending the payroll tax cut, and regardless of how one looks at it, releasing the payroll tax and unemployment insurance extension hostage is going to come at a cost that hurts the economy and the American people. For the past three years, Republicans have tied Democratic proposals to help the economy and the American people with gifts to the wealthy and their corporations and, in the process, have killed jobs and included cuts to Medicare and mandatory spending programs. What Republicans have called spending offsets are nothing more than hostage payments to save the American people. It is noteworthy that during the Bush administration, Republicans routinely passed legislation without offsets in spending.
The Republican demands to release the payroll tax and unemployment benefit extensions are; speeding up the Kesytone XL pipeline to help the oil industry rape the environment and improve their bottom line, cutting unemployment benefits down from 99 weeks to 59 weeks, require applicants for government benefits to submit to drug testing, delay Environmental Protection Agency regulations, make huge reductions in health care funding, and require parents applying for an earned income credit to submit their child’s Social Security number. It is a typical Republican demand to release their latest hostage; the payroll tax and unemployment extension.
First, the requirement for parents to submit their children’s Social Security number to apply for the earned income credit has been written into the tax code since its inception. It is a bogus demand and another stalling tactic by Republicans. Cutting unemployment benefits down from 99 to 59 weeks defeats the purpose of the extension and smacks of Republicans’ practice of punishing unemployed workers; it is especially egregious when one considers that Republicans have refused to help create jobs, and have, in fact, killed millions of jobs with their Draconian spending cuts aimed at the poor and middle class. Then there is the unconstitutional drug testing requirement.
The 4th Amendment clearly “guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.” Republicans are suggesting that an applicant for government benefits is suspect and gives any agency probable cause to unreasonably search a applicant’s blood or urine for traces of drugs. It should not be surprising Republicans disregard the Constitution when they have the opportunity; especially when they can target poor and struggling Americans who are suffering the effects of GOP economic malfeasance.
One of the most devious parts of the Republican demands is tens-of-billions of dollars in cuts to the ACA, and it includes an $8 billion repeal of the “prevention and public health fund” that passed the House earlier this year. It is unclear how Republicans tied extending the payroll tax cut to funds to prevent health problems in the future, but apparently if they can hurt the American people, repealing prevention funding is a mouth-watering prospect for Republicans.
It is pure evil that Republicans coupled their favorite job killing agendas with an economically beneficial payroll tax cut. They claim that the payroll tax cut must be paid for, but are unwilling to raise taxes on a very small percentage of the wealthiest Americans. Instead, they revert to their desired outcome of causing harm to the economy and as many Americans as possible. It is the Republican way.
The most outrageous aspect of the Republicans’ proposal is their accusation that President Obama asked for the payroll tax and unemployment extension and if he vetoes the Republican hostage demands, then he does not really want the extensions. It was reported that at the start of the Republican caucus to put together the package of harmful demands, the leadership enumerated all the great things they have accomplished this year and apparently the caucus was emboldened and excited that they assailed women’s rights, gay rights, the poor, children, elderly Americans, and destroyed millions of jobs. It is evident that the more damage Republicans cause to the economy and the American people, the happier they are. Their latest hostage demands continue their pattern of economic damage and it does not bode well for America or its people that one political party spent an entire session of Congress imposing pain and suffering on 99% of the population to protect 1% of the wealthy elite.
President Obama has said he will veto any proposal that ties unrelated issues to the payroll tax and unemployment extension. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “With the middle class facing a huge tax increase on the first of January, now is not the time to be debating unrelated measures.” Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader, said of the hostage demands, “It’s a poison pill designed to sink the payroll tax extension.” Conversely, Mitch McConnell took his usual Republican position that, “unlike the previous proposals from Senate Democrats, this bill was designed to pass by leaving out job-killing tax hikes.” McConnell seems to ignore the fact that reduced spending kills jobs and that tax increases on the wealthy does not.
Americans must be aware that there is nothing Republicans like more than causing pain and suffering for all but the wealthy. The minimal tax increase on the wealthiest Americans pays for the payroll tax cut and as far as hurting job creators, NPR reports that Republicans are unable to produce a single millionaire job-creator that agrees tax hikes hurts hiring. In fact, NPR found several business owners who said the marginal tax change “makes zero difference in hiring” and that there is no connection between raising taxes and hiring.
It is obvious that Republicans do not want to extend the payroll tax extension because they hate the American people. They also hate the president and know that the payroll tax cut created jobs and helped grow the economy. Nancy Pelosi summed it up best by calling the GOP hostage demand a “poison pill” and it is only to prevent 160 million Americans from receiving a tax cut because Republicans are furious Democrats refuse to give the wealthiest 1% of Americans more tax cuts.
Republicans are vile human beings. They have punished the American people for the past year, and now with their latest round of torture, they claim they are showing Christmas spirit. Extending the payroll tax and unemployment benefits is the right thing to do to help the economy and hard-working Americans. Unfortunately, Republicans have no intention of doing the right thing and in fact, insist on causing as much pain and suffering as possible to the American people. The only poison pill in America is the Republican Party and the antidote is electing Democrats who will support the president and the American people.