by Linda Beale
House passes spending bill
While the Senate was wrangling over what of the noxious provisions in HR 3630 they would have to keep in order to get expanded unemployment compensation and a payroll tax cut, the House passed a spending bill 296-121 (with 147 Republicans and 149 Democrats in favor) to carry the government through September 2012. Steinhauer & Pear, Senate Leaders Agree to a Two Month Extension of the Payroll Tax Cut, New York Times (Dec. 16, 2011).
The GOP strategy is to obstruct and demand–one right-wing idea after another is inserted into every bill, just so the Dems will think they have won something when they give the Republicans ten things instead of 100!
As wrangling over the tax has continued, Republican leaders have sought to build support for the measure by adding conservative policy provisions, which have replaced earmarks as the legislative sweetener for Republican lawmakers in a Congress where fundamental differences about the role of government in American life deeply divide the parties.
That conflict, which mirrors the broader political dynamic across the country, is unlikely to ebb in the second session, as Republicans labor to make life more difficult for President Obama and Democrats struggle to hold the White House and the Senate. Id.
The spending bill isn’t much better. See Sonmez, Government Funding Bill That Will Avert Shutdown Passed by House, Washington Post Blog, Dec. 16, 2011; Steinhauer & Pear, Senate Leaders Agree to a Two Month Extension of the Payroll Tax Cut, New York Times (Dec. 16, 2011). Defense gets $518 billion and military gets a 1.6% pay raise. (Remember that this same house in HR 3630, the unemployment extension bill, wanted to freeze all federal workers’ pay for another year, and require greater retirement contributions, among other stingy things for ordinary people.)
In line with the GOP’s anti-regulations ploy, the House bill makes it harder for the government to regulate marketing for food targeted at kids–now there has to be a cost-benefit analysis. Regretably, cost-benefit analysis is one of those “economics”-based policy ideas that essentially favors the retention of the status quo: any regulation will cost businesses something (restrained marketing to kids costs junk food businesses a whole sector of potential targets, er, customers), and the business world portrays the benefit of healthy food or less exploited kids as miniscule compared to the wonders of their profits and what that can do for society (the wealthy will get wealthier, no doubt).
The House doesn’t care much for ordinary people. Low-income heating assistance spending will be cut compared to last year and the National Institutes for Health will be barely increased. The GOP is placing its moral oprobrium of gays in the limelight by prohibiting health money from being used in needle exchange programs, which have been shown to be effective in curbing the spread of AIDS. Obama’s education initiative is cut 20%–in spite of the fact that education is key to economic growth and the development of human capital.
crossposted with ataxingmatter