Nel's New Day

December 16, 2011

Omnibus, Temporary Payroll Tax Extension Pass

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 6:27 PM
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It’s always a good thing when Congress decides that the country should pay its bills—although why there’s such a hoopla about it, I don’t understand. The government was due to shut down today—for the third time this year since Republicans took over—unless the $1 trillion omnibus bill passed, a law which will fund the government for the next year. The House passed it today by a vote of 296 to 121.

The cynic in me always wonders what we lost because the Republicans agree to vote with the Democrats about paying the nation’s bills.  Yes, there’s a batch of bad smells coming out of the omnibus bill

The Republicans have succeeded in keeping the District of Columbia from spending their local funds on abortion and, thanks to the tireless work of Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), blocked the light bulb standards that George W. Bush signed into law. Riders barred the use of federal funds for needle exchanges nation-wide, weakened the National Labor Relations Board, and included funds for discredited “abstinence only” programs.  Other negatives were cuts to LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program), black Colleges,and community service programs.

Also the Republicans’ bill  to extend the payroll tax reduction, dubbed the oxymoronic “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011,” was passed–for two months. The two-month bill goes to the Senate tomorrow morning. Republicans fought to get Democrats to cave on all their proposals. The Democrats already dropped their proposal to tax the millionaires; now they agree to sending the Keystone XL pipeline proposal to Obama for an immediate up or down. Boehner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said they would not accept even a temporary extension of the payroll tax holiday without the Keystone language.

The Congress can’t really force the administration into making this decision before Obama’s deadline of after the 2012 election. The State Department, which makes the final call, has said, “Should Congress impose an arbitrary deadline for the permit decision … the Department would be unable to make a determination to issue a permit for this project.” The saber-rattling about the subject, however, continues.

Two months would cost less than $30 billion to be covered by increasing the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fees for mortgage lenders to guarantee repayments of new mortgage loans. The payroll tax reduction bill would also freeze scheduled cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors until March.

Another bone of contention between Republicans and Democrats was counting war savings in the “payfors” that conservatives required. Possibly Republicans don’t want to count the savings because they plan a preenptive war on Iran. Every Republican presidential candidate at the most recent debate except Ron Paul is determined to bomb Iran because they have nuclear weapons. (Have we heard that conservative argument for a preemptive war recently?)

None of this is a done deal. If the Senate passes the bill, then changes have to go back to the House so that representatives can vote on it. Again. Republicans certainly like living on the edge!


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