The debt reduction compromise puts a balanced budget Constitutional amendment to a full Congressional vote this year. Montana would ratify the leftover idea from the “Contract with America.” A balanced budget has plenty of populist appeal.
“That is not fair to the American people to hold out and say we won’t agree to raising the debt limit until we pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution,” Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain said on the Senate floor. “It’s unfair, it’s bizzaro. And maybe some people have only been in this body for six or seven months or so really believe that.”
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner appears apprehensive about his far-right caucus. Boehner said “he’s got a job to do” as his compromise passed the U.S. House. Boehner recognizes the need for moderation as his old boss, Newt Gingrich, became a polarizing figure and resigned in 1998. Just four years earlier Gingrich orchestrated the “Contract with America.”
Instead of passing a budget, Congress opted for a “continuing resolution” that keeps our government funded until the end of September. Rather than a “jobs bill,” Middle America can expect another brawl this fall as Congress wrangles over budgets. Couple that with more ridiculousness over another debt debate.
Republicans have a clear procedural upper hand in Congress. The GOP has a big majority in the House and Democrats don’t have a 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Nothing will pass the 112th Congress without the Republican seal of approval.
Filibusters are a part of American politics. The Civil Rights Act bill stalled action in the Senate for 87 days, but was signed into law as part of the Great Society. Former Montana Sen. Mike Mansfield was the Majority Leader at the time and could get things done.
The debt compromise cuts the deficit by $90 billion a year, for 10 years, in waste and services. It would then double that amount in more cuts: split between military and human services. Congress can change the automatic trigger, but that requires action.
Boehner says that there is nothing in the deal that “violates our principles.” It cuts government services more than it raises the debt, implements spending caps to curtail future growth in government, and advances the cause of the balanced budget amendment.
Ultimately, Republican presidential candidates Reps. Ron Paul and Michelle Bachmann would not support the compromise. It represents a political win for President Barack Obama and Republicans. It benefits Wall Street and Main Street. But the lawmaking seemed as ridiculous and intransigent as during the 2007 Montana Legislature.
In that Legislature, House Speaker Scott Sales took a go-it-alone approach. To appease the GOP’s right, Sales allowed the traditional budget bill to be dismantled into six separate appropriation bills.
Draconian cuts were made to the budget, with one headline indicating that Montana’s entire Health and Human Services agency was allotted just $300. Ultimately, the GOP ousted their majority leader as he said that Gov. Brian Schweitzer could take compromise and “stick it…”
The moderates have almost vanished in Congress, and the middle must be recreated on every vote. When asked about the tone of the Congressional debate McCain said, “I think it was very bad.”
Speaker Boehner gave the compromise the GOP seal of approval. But the middle class will ultimately decide as $2 trillion is shaved from national debt.
Americans deserve jobs more than selfish political rhetoric. If Congress cannot produce a jobs atmosphere for Middle America, its political future rightly rest in the hands of independent and moderate voters. When people get fed up enough, the 112th Congress will quit dillydallying and pass a real “jobs bill.”
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