Most people regard arrogance and presumptuousness as a disparaging quality that conceals guilt and inadequacy in any number of situations and circumstances. Political observers are aware that Republicans’ arrogance hides their anger at not controlling every facet of government and it informs the actions and statements of men like Speaker of the House John Boehner. Boehner is not alone in displaying arrogance befitting a little man striving to be the biggest, most important person in the room; indeed, all Republicans in leadership positions speak and act as if they are the President, legislative, and judicial leaders controlling the country. The payroll tax cut extension debacle Republicans are using for political expediency has brought displays of arrogance and obstinacy that threatens to raise taxes on 160 million Americans and set back economic recovery President Obama and Democrats have worked tirelessly to achieve.
Speaker Boehner told Senate Leader Harry Reid and Minority leader Mitch McConnell to work out a compromise on the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefit extension so Republicans in the House could quickly pass tax relief for hardworking Americans. Boehner’s arrogance at giving commands to the Senate was remarkable, but Reid and McConnell dutifully obeyed Boehner to help working Americans avoid a tax increase. Of course, McConnell and his Republican cohorts demanded concessions from Democrats before they would extend the tax cuts instead of adding a surtax on millionaires and billionaires to pay for the extensions. Reid, for his part, gave in to Republicans instead of raising taxes on working Americans and moved the debate over a full year’s tax cuts to January, but at least the Senate worked out a two month extension. Boehner said the deal was a victory on Saturday, but on Sunday, contradicted himself and as promised, rejected the Senate deal and set up a conference committee to work out a better deal that gives more gifts to the oil industry, the wealthy and punishes Americans in the process with cuts that defeat the tax cuts’ economic benefits.
Boehner’s arrogance and presumptuousness was on full display when he said, “President Obama needs to call on Senate Democrats to go back into session, move to go to conference, and to sit down and resolve this bill as quickly as possible. We’ve done our work for the American people. Now, it’s up to the president and Democrats in the Senate to do their job as well.” Now, it is a fact that as Speaker, Boehner is third in line for the presidency according to the Constitution; but where does he get off telling the President of the United States or Senate Democrats what and how to do their jobs? It is an insecure little man’s presumption of power he clearly does not possess and a deflective maneuver to conceal his inadequacy as Speaker to control his own caucus. What makes Boehner’s remarks even worse is his assertion that “We’ve done our work for the American people” that reeks of typical Republican lies and in a sense, typifies the real damage the GOP representatives in Congress have achieved during this session of the 112th Congress. The damage now, as well as the whole 112th Congress has been to do absolutely nothing productive for the American people.
The Speaker presumes that a committee of Republicans and Democrats will have any more success than the super committee tasked with finding a balanced approach to reducing the nation’s deficit. Boehner’s tactics also portend failure that will give Republicans the outcome they really have desired from the start; letting the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefit extensions expire at the rapidly approaching end of the year. Republicans have used the “uncertainty” meme throughout the past two years over the implementation of the Affordable Health Act, and they dusted off the worn out canard to use again in reference to a two month extension. If Republicans were so concerned about extending the tax cut and unemployment benefits, they could have passed a clean bill with the 3.25% surtax on the rich in the first place. Instead, they protected the wealthy and attached unrelated items like the Keystone XL pipeline, billions in cuts to seniors’ healthcare, pay freezes for civilian federal employees, environmental regulation elimination, and eliminating federal jobs in exchange for extending the tax cuts for working Americans. Boehner’s contention that Republicans did their work for the American people is true. They effectively proposed stealing from working Americans to pay for tax cuts for working Americans. Now, they have all but assured an eleventh-hour deal that serves one purpose that President Obama accurately said “is to wring concessions from Democrats on issues that have nothing to do with the payroll tax cut, issues where the parties fundamentally disagree.”
There is nothing new to Republican tactics of holding Americans hostage for issues related to protecting the wealthy and enriching the oil industry. As for John Boehner’s arrogant remark that President Obama and Congressional Democrats do their job, the President asked for the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefit extensions as part of a comprehensive jobs plan back in September and he has been unrelenting in prodding Congress to pass his jobs plan. It falls to Congress to act on the President’s request and Republicans have blocked the plan in total and in pieces ever since. Republicans in both houses of Congress are guilty of not doing their jobs and instead of accepting responsibility for not acting, have arrogantly accused Democrats and the President of not doing their job.
Republicans presume that they control the country, and Boehner presumes to control the President and the Senate. The truth of the matter is that Boehner cannot control his own caucus in the House and instead of admitting that the teabagger caucus controls him, he deflects blame and responsibility for inaction to Democrats and the President. There are always losers when arrogant little men presume to have power and influence they never possessed, and once again it is the American people who will suffer. Regardless of what Democrats concede to Republicans, the GOP will protect the wealthy at the expense of the American people and in this case, Republicans have set up a massive tax increase on 160 million Americans to prevent a tiny 3.25% surtax on the wealthy.
It is little wonder that Congress suffers an 11% approval rating or that Americans believe Republicans lack ethical standards and only care about their wealthy campaign donors. What is a wonder is that men like John Boehner and Republicans can sleep at night knowing their political games are playing havoc with working Americans’ lives. Although most observers expected Republicans to take the payroll tax cut extension down to the wire, it still engenders disgust and disappointment that they are cavalier and callous with 160 million Americans’ economic future and are willing to go to any lengths to protect the wealthy. It hardly seems likely that the tax cuts will be extended at the eleventh hour, but one can only hope Democrats are not forced into paying a hostage demand that causes more harm to the economy or struggling Americans. But with giving in on the Keystone XL pipeline not being sufficient ransom for a two-month extension, the prospects for a smaller amount of middle class damage are bleak, and all because an arrogant bunch of Republicans still labor under the assumption that they are, at the same time, legislators, economic experts, and president; in truth they are arrogant little men and exterminators of a once vibrant middle class.