Hostage taking in the United States is a federal criminal offense and considered an act of terrorism if it involves compelling the government to take action in exchange for a payment. Although hostage taking normally refers to abducting a person, it also means holding up government progress until it acquiesces to pay criminals’ demands. Many Americans believe that all politicians are criminals, and it speaks to why so many prospective voters abstain from participating in elections. Since Barack Obama has been President, Republican criminals have held the economy, jobs, debt limit, and unemployment benefits hostage in return for their limited agenda of tax cuts for the wealthy, oil industry subsidies, or cuts to programs that help most Americans, and they are at it again.
In a rare show of Congressional bipartisanship, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and James Inhofe (R-OK) sponsored the two-year surface transportation bill that garnered 85 votes to move it forward and illustrated alleged wide-spread support for a job-creating measure. The 85-11 vote on Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) earned kudos all around and both Boxer and Inhofe said they looked forward to passing the highway bill “as soon as possible.” Boxer and Inhofe’s statements were issued on February 9th, and the bill’s passage has been held up by Republicans with no less than three hostage demands that are not germane to surface transportation. MAP-21 would create 2.8 million jobs for the construction industry that has suffered from the Republican-caused downturn in the economy, but Republicans refuse to pass a clean bill regardless the consequences.
Despite Inhofe and Boxer’s request to keep the bill from controversy, three Republican senators attempted to attach an amendment mandating the Keystone XL pipeline’s construction which Democrats warned would “kill the bill,” and freshman senator Rand Paul (R-KY) put a hold on the bill over aid to Egypt; a senior Democratic senator blocked his attempt. Republicans lack enthusiasm to create jobs or help the economy unless they get a hostage payment in return for their support and their attempts to block passage of MAP-21 continues unabated.
Roy Blunt (R-MO) attempted to hold the transportation bill hostage with an attack on contraception coverage that had nothing whatsoever to do with transportation, roads, and bridges. Last week, the Senate killed Blunt’s amendment to MAP-21 by a vote of 51-48 with one Republican voting against it and 3 Democrats voting to ransom 2.8 million jobs. The hidden agenda was allowing insurance providers to decline providing any health service and restrict the Patient Protection aspect of the Affordable Care Act. In effect, Blunt and his Republican allies were holding 2.8 million American jobs hostage unless the government paid by eliminating the health law.
As of Thursday, there were 30 different amendments to the transportation bill and the majority were Republican offerings to reward the oil industry. The most egregious amendment besides Blunt’s is the amendment to build the Keystone XL pipeline that was, much to the dismay of TransCanada and Speaker John Boehner, shot down in a close vote on Thursday. Republicans defeated an amendment mandating that if the pipeline was built, the oil industry could not export the oil that may have served to reduce oil prices for American consumers. As is usually the case, Republicans’ primary concern was not for the American people or lower fuel prices, but for oil industry profits.
It should be glaringly obvious that Republicans will not do anything for Americans unless they can reward their wealthy contributors and special interest groups. Attaching a mandate to MAP-21 to begin immediate construction of the Keystone XL pipeline rewards Canadian tar sand companies that Speaker John Boehner owns stock in as well as American oil exporters who will sell Canada’s oil to China and Europe. The pipeline offers no benefit to Americans and instead of helping allay speculator-caused rising fuel costs, it will definitely increase fuel prices for American farmers as it enriches big-oil and John Boehner. Eliminating the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s provisions rewards the insurance industry by allowing them to deny coverage for any health issue and punishes all Americans who carry health insurance.
Republicans claim to work for Americans, but they are hypocrites and liars. Senator James Inhofe, for example, expressed his desire to “keep controversy out of MAP-21 because it will create 2.8 million jobs,” but he voted for the Blunt amendment. Inhofe was willing to hold 2.8 million jobs hostage unless the insurance industry and creepy theocrats were rewarded with legality to decline any health services. Inhofe, like all Republicans was willing to sacrifice Americans’ jobs, economic growth, lower fuel prices, and healthcare in exchange for enriching special interests leading a suspicious person to conclude that Inhofe supported MAP-21 just to give his cohorts a new hostage to ransom.
Americans are learning that Republicans have no use for the people or their welfare and, indeed, are willing to jeopardize this country’s economic progress to serve their masters. If it means lying to hold jobs and economic progress hostage, then they pursue that course relentlessly. If holding up jobs and economic growth to compel the government to pay Republicans’ special interests’ demands is not criminal hostage taking, then the Sun doesn’t rise in the East. According to United States Code 1203 (18 USC 1203), the punishment for hostage taking is any term of years or life imprisonment, and if any person dies as a result of hostage taking, the punishment is death. Accordingly, every Republican in Congress deserves life imprisonment for repeatedly compelling the government to take action in return for a hostage payment, and if the Blunt amendment had passed and Americans died for lack of health services, they would deserve summary execution. The American people have an opportunity to hand down the harshest punishment possible to Republican hostage takers and they look poised to administer a much-deserved electoral death sentence in November.