Friday, January 21, 2011

House Republicans focus on politics over substance

Republicans have taken over the House of Representatives, but after all that was said prior to and after the midterms about how the "adults" were now going to be in charge let's take a look at what they've done so far:

1. They read the Constitution
What was the point of reading the Constitution? According to Republicans, House members needed to be reminded of what was in it. Anyone who paid attention to the reading would have noticed that nearly all members left the floor just as soon as they read their tiny bit. So it's doubtful that any benefit was derived from that bit of political theatre.

2. They debated and then repealed healthcare reform.
Instead of the groundswell of Democratic support that Republicans predicted, only 3 Democrats voted for repeal and these were Blue Dog Democrats who who had already voted against the bill the first time around. The repeal bill will now die in the Senate despite Republican whining that Senate Democrats won't let the bill come to a vote. This whining by Republicans is particularly ironic considering how many bills the Republicans have blocked in the Senate over the past two years, because they were intent on denying Obama any credit for doing anything.

Republicans want to repeal the healthcare law that was passed before actually proposing a viable alternative. And it's quite clear that they have no intention of ever passing any law except those that benefit private insurance companies at the expense of the people they claim to represent.

3. They attempted to redefine rape to further restrict federal funding for abortions.
Current law allows federal funds to pay for abortions resulting from rape or incest. The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” narrowed the definition of rape to “forcible rape.” Anti-abortion zealots don't want the federal government to pay for any abortions so they sought to eliminate funding for ending pregnancies resulting from rapes where force is supposedly not involved; such as date rape, statutory rape, rapes where drugs or alcohol render the victim unable to fight back, and rapes of mental incompetents.

The backlash was swift and it caused Republicans to remove the forcible rape language, but the bill would still eliminate tax breaks for health insurance premiums on policies that cover abortion expenses and it would prevent women from paying for an abortion with funds from a health savings account. 

And what's next on the agenda for House Republicans?
Republicans plan to rewrite the Clean Air Act so that it can't be used to fight climate change. This is another example of political theatre that will accomplish nothing because this bill will also die in the Senate. Republicans don't care about clean air or climate change. They frame everything in terms of how it will affect job growth, as if turning America into a toxic waste dump is OK as long as a few jobs are created in the process.

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