Thursday, September 16, 2010

Of Help and Hypocrites

This is good news, brought our way by The New York Times:
The Senate on Thursday approved a multi-billion dollar package of tax breaks and government-backed loans for small businesses, as Democrats surmounted months of opposition by Republican leaders. Backers say the bill could spur business growth and new hiring.

“Small businesses are the major job creators in our economy, and this legislation will ensure that our small businesses have the tax incentives and credit they need to expand and hire,” said Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California.
It took 61 votes, including those of two Republicans, to overcome a ridiculous GOP filibuster. The bill now heads for the U.S. House, where it’s expected to pass quickly and be sent to the president for his enthusiastic signature.

But, as The Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen notes today, this delay in getting assistance to people and businesses wasn’t necessary.
The basis for near-unanimous opposition to the legislation was ... well, I’m still not sure what Republicans were thinking. We’re talking about a bill with tax incentives for small businesses and an attempt to expand credit through a lending program that utilizes local banks. The bill, which is fully paid for, was finished and ready to go in July, arguably even June.

Indeed, there were all kinds of small businesses that “put hiring, supply buying and real estate expansion on hold,” just waiting for the Senate to act.

But Republicans didn’t want the Senate to act. For reasons that remain a mystery, the GOP fought to delay passage, then fought it again with a filibuster, then fought it again even when final passage was assured. For all their talk about small businesses needing relief, Republicans--including the alleged “moderates” (Snowe, Collins, and Brown)--spent most of the summer trying to kill a bill to help small businesses.

Voinovich, in refreshing candor, acknowledged last week that his Republican colleagues were, in fact, playing petty games, as part of a larger political “messaging” effort. Now, the Ohio senator believes, “we don’t have time anymore” for the partisan gamesmanship.

In other words, according to a senior GOP senator, his Republican Party delayed progress on a worthwhile economic bill--on purpose--as part of an election-season scheme. Businesses that could have aided economic expansion months ago were delayed because the GOP had a “messaging” strategy in mind.
This is shameful behavior by Congress’ minority party. Republicans have acted for the last two years like spoiled brats, unwilling to cooperate because they’re no longer in charge of things. They have tried to delay, kill, or otherwise cripple legislation that would help Americans in need of financial help, merely because they don’t want their Democratic opponents to win any more favor among voters. Screw the people, goes their message, what counts is our winning more power in the November midterm elections.

I understand that Americans are frustrated with the sluggish pace of economic recovery; I’m no less frustrated. But why anyone who’s been paying attention to the political scene over the last decade would endorse a takeover of Congress by Republicans--the very same people who, through overspending, disregard for public oversight of Big Business, and general incompetence, got us into this mess in the first place--is beyond me. The GOP hopes to curb public spending by denying assistance to people in need, and undermining valuable programs such as health-care reform and Social Security. Their goal seems to be to destroy the public safety net and leave Americans helpless on their own.

Whatever hurt that causes, they’re willing to inflict. And ignore.

READ MORE:Senate Gets Back to Business of Not Getting Business Done,” by Alex Pareene (Salon).

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