You know, in politics, it’s easy to get sickened by the hypocrisy that goes around. On both sides, I will admit, it gets beyond compare. I expect to see a lot more from the US, now with the GOP in charge of the House and the Democrats holding onto a slimmer majority in the Senate.
The first example is already creeping out of the shadows. Oh, forget that the Republicans are going back on a bunch of their election ‘promises’, this one is a procedural one. It’s what was termed the ‘demon pass’ by the GOP when the Democrats were in power, but now seems to be a perfectly reasonable and acceptable procedural process.
In the US, obviously the government has to pass a budget. When they haven’t passed a budget, there is designated time limits for the spending authority of the government. Every time the limit comes up, the chambers have to vote to reauthorise the government to keep spending. It comes up all the time, and the last time the authority to continue funding unemployment benefits came up for a vote it got filibustered by some Republicans in the Senate so that unemployed people missed out on their benefits.
Well, when the government hasn’t passed a budget, the House Budget Commitee chairman gets to set the uppermost spending level. In theory, they could say that the government can only spend $1 for the authorised period. They could, conversely, say the government could spend the total of the US budget if they wanted. Obviously the chairman is a reasonable, down-to-Earth person and might lift levels by inflation, or leave them at the previous spending levels.
The chairman of the 11th Congress (the previous one) didn’t get much facetime because, well, it was never going to be an issue for the Democrats. Even if they hadn’t passed a budget, the ‘higher ups’ could pass a note down to the chairman and orders would be followed. That’s what happens when one party controls all the chambers. It would only be a problem if the Democrats hadn’t passed a budget and had control of the Senate and the White House but not the House where the chairman comes from …
Which is exactly what has happened with the 112th Congress which sat for the first time this week.
Paul Ryan is the new Republican who is taking over the chairmanship. The new rules, as laid down by the House and will be adopted by the new session of Congress, will allow Ryan to set the level as if the budget had been passed. The ramifications of this are quite large, but that’s not what this post is about.
What is the problem is that the Republicans were crying like babies, wailing when the Democrats floated the idea that they would pass health care reform through this process, or there abouts. It would come to be called Slaughter Solution, not because of any other reason than the person who proposed it was House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter. The Republicans went crazy that everything they hated in the health bill would get through without them trying to obstruct it all they could.
Ignore the fact that the process is used on every bill or issue or law that comes up that isn’t high-profile.
Now what is happening? The GOP is actually going to use this chairman loophole to set funding levels. Like I said, the issues are huge. But they are more than happy to do it and set their own party-promised levels rather than, I don’t know, negotiating in full faith with the rest of the government.
There’s no outrage from the rank-and-file that they are using the process they were up in arms about earlier. And it’s this hypocrisy that makes me sick.