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99ers: Update on H.R. 589

H.R. 589 costs $16 billion

Several people have been asking for an update on H.R. 589... After members of the CBC met with President Obama on May 11, 2011 and longterm unemployment insurance came up, there isn’t much that has happened since then. Bickering back and fourth between President Obama, Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor is sad way partisan politics works in Washington. Many “leaders” are more interested in opposing their opposition than they are in their constituents locally or nationally. Still, one must pay close attention to the clash between the President and House Republicans on the debt ceiling. Why? because you never know what bargaining chip might enter into such a negotiation.  I say this with the understanding that H.R. 589 is one hell of a large “chip” as presently constituted: $16 billion. Of course, we’ll probably blow $2 billion in Libya and we already spend $20 billion a month on other wars so it’s all relative…

Since Boehner, Cantor, McConnell and the gang keep insisting they will never support a tax increase on 300,000 millionaire households and friends the gridlock continues. Will the President cave in to them in the end? We won’t know until the end of July. There’s a reason divided gov’t — where we have a majority Democratic Senate and a majority Republican House — is a pain in the ass. Congress moves slowly even when the same party is in control of the White House, the Senate and the House. During the 111th Congress from Jan. 2009 to Jan. 2011, the Democrats passed many bills but spent too much time on health care and too little time on job related policy — and they controlled everything. Only 3% of the legislation offered actually passes. The best thing (perhaps the only thing) a member of the House in the minority can do is keep bugging those in power within their sphere of influence and get the subject on the agenda. If Reps. Barbara Lee and Bobby Scott were Senators they could be a whole lot more annoying and even shut the place down under Senate rules (remember the scene Sen. Bernie Sanders put on as an example…). Unfortunately, they are in the minority in the U.S. House, 2 out of 435 people and 17 months away from a Presidential election.  The closer we get to November 2012, the worse the gridlock and inaction will become as President Obama, already showing huge signs of mega-pandering, becomes completely fixed on re-election.

There is a reason why members of the CBC are using the August recess to sponsor a multi-city a jobs tour focused on actual hiring rather than talk related events, presentations and other distractions.  Several members of the CBC who are sitting in the minority in the House are frustrated with the lack of progress and the absence of real progress on the issues. Obviously the jobs tour can’t get everyone a job but it’s a hell of a lot more proactive than banging one’s head against the wall dealing with the GOP majority.