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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Today in Washington, D.C. - Sept 30, 2010 - Dems Skip Town To Campaign, Leaving Americans With Looming Tax Increases

The Senate is in recess until Friday when the first of a series of pro forma sessions will prevent President Obama from making recess appointments until after Election Day.  The Senate will reconvene for legislative business on Monday, November 15th. Under the law, the president can only make a recess appointment if the Senate is adjourned for more than three consecutive days. Democratic leaders have agreed to schedule pro-forma sessions of the Senate every week over the next six weeks, a move that will prevent Obama from making emergency appointments, according to Senate sources briefed on the talks.

Obama had more than 110 executive- and judicial-branch nominees pending on the Senate’s executive calendar as of Wednesday afternoon. The Senate approved 54 of Obama’s nominees late Wednesday evening, including a dozen ambassadors, 11 U.S. Marshals and six U.S. attorneys. The Senate confirmed Sarah Raskin to serve as a member and Janel Yellen to serve as a member and chair of the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve. The chamber also confirmed Maria Raffinan as an associate judge of the D.C. Superior Court, the only judicial nominee on the list.

According to a senior GOP aide,Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) using an established procedure for the minority leader threatened to send Obama’s most controversial nominees back to the president if Democrats did not agree to schedule pro-forma sessions, Democrats agreed earlier in the day to a Republican demand to cut spending levels for government agencies in order to pass a stop-gap spending measure.

Democrats are eager to get back home to defend their record to voters and they couldn’t do that until the spending bill passed. Yesterday the Senate voted 69-30 to approve H.R. 3081, a continuing resolution to fund the government through December 3rd, since Democrats failed to pass either a budget or a single appropriations bill before the end of the fiscal year today.

Prior to approving the CR, the Senate voted 48-51 to reject an amendment from Sen. John Thune (R-SD) to reduce the amount of non-defense, non-veteran spending in the bill by 5%. Also rejected, by a vote of 39-60, was an amendment from Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) to extend the CR to February, to allow the new Congress to consider the unpassed spending bills.

Earlier in the day, the Senate voted 40-59 against a motion to proceed to S.J. Res. 39, a resolution of disapproval, offered by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), of the administration’s newest health care regulations which could force many businesses to change or drop their health care plans under Democrats’ new law.

Democrats voted to adjourn the Senate without taking up a bill to prevent massive tax increases in January.

The New York Times writes today, “Congress on Thursday adopted a stopgap spending measure to finance the government through Dec. 3 as lawmakers dashed for an earlier-than-expected exodus from Washington and headed home to focus on the midterm elections. . . . The last day of the brief September session was as notable for what did not get done as for what did. Neither chamber voted on the expiring Bush-era tax cuts as Democrats skipped a politically treacherous debate and Republicans slammed them for it. . . . The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said that Democrats were far more eager to leave Washington. ‘They have a unified desire to leave town,’ Mr. McConnell said . . . .” The AP was a little more pointed, writing, “Majority Democrats facing significant losses in the wake of unpopular bills to stimulate the economy and overhaul the nation's health care laws sought to do their party no further harm on Capitol Hill.”

Despite that desire, Democrats have irresponsibly left town while leaving Americans to wonder whether their taxes will go up in January. As The Boston Globe noted, “The House and Senate adjourned last night, leaving the central pocketbook issue to be decided after the Nov. 2 midterm elections — and just weeks before the tax cuts are set to expire. That indecision injects more uncertainty into whose taxes will go up, and by how much.”

Indeed, Politico reported yesterday, “A wide swath of U.S. businesses Tuesday reported that the economy has slowed significantly in the last few months, and they said that the tax stalemate in Washington was a major reason that flagging consumer sentiment is now endangering the recovery. In separate reports, big business members of the Business Roundtable, along with manufacturers, home builders and the oil industry gave gloomy assessments of the recovery and said Congress’ decision to postpone action on tax cuts until after the election was weighing heavily on consumer sentiment.”

And yet Democrats seem content to let this problem persist. Not only did they bolt without addressing the issue of looming tax increases, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) apparently decided that protecting Americans from tax hikes still won’t be a priority for Democrats when Congress returns for a lame duck session in a little more than 6 weeks.  Before leaving, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed cloture on the motions to proceed to 3 bills: a bill to promote natural gas and electric vehicles (S. 3815), a bill Democrats named the “Paycheck Fairness Act” (recall that they named “card check” the “Employee Free Choice Act”) (S. 3772), and a food safety bill that expands the FDA’s regulatory powers (S. 510).  None of these bills have anything to do with preventing tax increases. Instead his priority is on electric cars and food safety.

As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday, “[W]e’ll be leaving Washington to head back to our states. And when we do, Democrats will have a lot of explaining to do about how they’ve spent their time here in the last year and a half.” He pointed out, “Just yesterday the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said these tax hikes will hurt the economy and slow the recovery. So what did we do here over the past week in the Senate? An ill-conceived bill that the Chairman of the Finance Committee said would put U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage and a campaign finance bill the entire goal of which is to give Democrats an electoral advantage in upcoming elections by muzzling their opponents. If Americans needed any further proof that Democrats haven’t been listening to them, this past week has provided all the evidence they need. Americans want us to focus on jobs, and our friends on the other side focused on preserving their own jobs and spending more taxpayer dollars.”

Tags: Washington, D.C., US Senate, democrats, tax increases, recess, Barack Obama, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 3:56 PM - Post Link

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