The midterm elections are over, and the Republican Party now controls the House of Representatives, and while they don’t control the Senate, they have enough of a presence to help dictate what legislation gets through. So let’s see if the so-called “party of no” will use their gains to try and get some of their ideas enacted.
Both Senator elect Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey have pointed out that the Republican gains aren’t a mandate, but a choice by the people to give them a shot, and they are now, essentially, on probation. Gov. Christie put it very bluntly, saying that they need to now do what they didn’t do for the past decade, which is to actually live up to what they say they believe in, and the ideals they espouse. Even when they had control in the past, they didn’t do what they promised, so the time has come to put up or shut up.
For instance, they claim to believe in lower taxes and lowering the deficit. Yet, they have pushed through tax cuts with no accompanying spending cuts. As a result, under President Bush the deficit soared, even though they took power after President Clinton left office with a surplus in his final year in office. They are again demanding that the Bush tax cuts be renewed. President Obama has agreed to that for people making under $250,000 a year, but the Republicans are adamant that they won’t go along with anything but the full scale cuts, for millionaires and billionaires as well as the average Joe.
They also want to keep the rescinded estate tax, which was zero in 2010, and the lower capital gains tax rates. Okay, I’m all for lower taxes (who isn’t), but if they are going to push these ideas through, they have to show where the cuts are. The government grew by leaps and bounds during President Bush’s tenure while they were busy cutting taxes. That also occurred during the Reagan years. So the record isn’t very good in that regard.
Now, I don’t agree with much of what the Republicans want to do, but I’m all for giving them a chance to see if their ideas work. (An attribute politicians in both parties are severely lacking; they’d rather see an idea fail than succeed in helping the country if it came from the opposition party. A real patriot would want the country’s well being to come first. But I digress.) So let’s see if the lower taxes and smaller government-spending model will work in spurring the economy and lowering unemployment.
What else are they talking about? Oh yes, the cry of the Tea Party, “Repeal Health Care Reform!” Now, I’m no fan of the health care bill that was passed. I think it’s a pretty lousy bill. But you know what? Let’s look at what we had before. We had 40 million people without health insurance. We had health insurance premiums that were going up 7 percent to 15 percent per year, pricing many people out of the market. We had people that couldn’t get insurance due to pre-existing conditions. We had people with insurance getting claims denied for bogus reasons, with no recourse.
I know some of these things from personal experience. My own health insurance went up on average $70/month each year for the past four years, and it got so high (higher than my mortgage payment), that I had to go to a lesser policy to be able to afford it. And a friend of mine had a colonoscopy, ordered on an emergency basis by a doctor who was in the insurance company plan, get denied because they don’t classify that as an emergency procedure, no matter what the doctor ordered. The denied bill? Over $14,000.
What action did President Bush and the Republican congress take during his eight years in office? Zero. Now it’s not just that I think people need help, it is also a vital economic issue. Our corporations are struggling to pay for health benefits for their employees. And they have to compete with overseas corporations that don’t have that expense, since every other industrialized nation besides us has some kind of national health insurance. It’s also helping bankrupt governments at every level. So you would think this would be on the agenda.
We still have all these problems, but let’s see if the new law will help alleviate some of them. If the Republicans don’t think it will and want to scream “Repeal!,” fine, but let’s see the alternative plan. Going back to what we had before isn’t going solve anything. If there’s a new plan, I haven’t heard about it yet.
We’ve got other major issues that were the focus of the Republican campaigns. The war in Afghanistan, education and energy come to mind. Again, plenty of criticism, but where are the ideas, the counter proposals? Let’s see something on the table, guys. Lay it on me, I’m willing to listen.
I hope Messrs. Toomey and Christie weren’t referring to the various social issues as the things they need to concentrate on. If the Republicans spend their time on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and on keeping gays out of the military, I hardly would call that passing this probationary period they say they’re in. We need action on the economy, and on the things that are affecting the lives of millions of Americans every day.
Let’s see what you’ve got… it’s time to put up or shut up.