Representative Mark Amodei (R-Nevada Mining Association) has a point: “We need to vote on something,” Amodei said. “How the hell do you defend nothing?” [RGJ] And, the point has merit. However, the leadership of his party in the 113th Congress hasn’t offered anything on major issues — immigration policy reform, infrastructure maintenance and construction, extension of unemployment benefits, job bills — on which to hang its hat.
The wonderful thing about having nothing to defend is that you have nothing to defend. If nothing is done about comprehensive immigration policy reform then the GOP has no legislation to defend in the hinterlands of Teapartistan. If nothing is done about infrastructure construction and maintenance then the GOP has no legislation to defend to the No New Taxes (Something For Nothing) crowd. If nothing is done about enhancing or improving the Voting Rights Act, then the GOP has no position to defend with the Neo-Confederate radicals enthusiastically engaged in vote suppression. If nothing is done about raising the federal minimum wage then the GOP doesn’t have to defend its position to those who have purchased the Trickle Down Hoax on the installment plan.
Another wonderful thing about having nothing to defend is that it leaves the party free to re-litigate the past. Don’t want to vote on comprehensive immigration policy reform? Then vote some 50 times to repeal or otherwise diminish the Affordable Care Act. [Slaughter] Don’t want to vote on raising the federal minimum wage? Then keep introducing and passing bills on abortion (H.R. 7) and “fetal pain” (H.R. 1797).
Yet more wonders come from mislabeling bills, such as calling legislation designed to offer more tax cuts for the already unburdened as Jobs Bills. [C/L] This past July the House passed an extension of the bonus depreciation breaks for major corporations, which does next to absolutely nothing for family owned small businesses, and proudly announced this would improve the overall economy — which it would, of course, provided that by ‘overall economy’ one means the bottom lines of major multinational corporations. [ATTP]
And then there’s the not-so-small matter of a House leadership which can’t get its own bills passed. Witness the debacle concerning the bill to alleviate immigration problems and refugee status adjudication. House Leadership pulled its miserly $659 million measure addressing these issues this month [CNN] when it failed to herd the Tea Party cats in its own caucus.
If the 80th Congress was the Do Nothing assembly, then the 113th seems to have acquired the label of Do Absolutely Nothing.
“With it about to depart on its five-week August recess, just 142 public bills have become law in this current Congress (2013-2014) – down from the 906 the 80th “Do-Nothing” Congress passed in 1947-48, and the 333 that were enacted during the Newt Gingrich-led 104th Congress of 1995-96.” [NBC]
But wait, say the apologists for Washington Gridlock! We’re here to prevent bad bills from being passed, therefore nothing is better than something. Evidently, “bad” is defined as anything which doesn’t meet the stringent and exact standards of Republican legislation. Worse still, when Republican concerns are considered to attempt some compromise, House GOP caucus members are known to flee — recall the last immigration legislation blunder.
And so it goes. And so Representative Amodei and others will continue to defend nothing. Nothing accomplished in terms of comprehensive immigration policy reform. Nothing accomplished in regard to raising the federal minimum wage. Nothing done regarding the improvement of the Voting Rights Act. Nothing accomplished with an eye toward our crumbling and inadequate national infrastructure. Nothing to approach the wage and salary gap between male and female employees. Nothing.
Somewhere, someone, may be considering a reprise of the 1961 hit “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying?”
“I will someday earn my medal:
Twenty-five year employee.
I’ll see to it that the medal
Is the only thing they’ll ever pin on me.”