Will the lunatics be running the asylum in the 112th Congress, at least in the House? One thing for certain is that they’ll be off to a running start, opening their first session with a reading of the U.S. Constitution, which I suspect will be the first time that most members of Congress (including the new Tea Party element) have taken the time to familiarize themselves with it. Understanding what they are reading is another question altogether; If you ask a tea-partier what the Constitution says, they’ll mumble something about gun rights, not paying taxes and allowing people to do whatever they damn well please (that is to say, real white Americans). Or in other words, the Constitution guarantees the right to trample on the rights of others in the name of “freedom.” It just depends on who’s doing the trampling; for the white Tea Party movement, the only rights they understand is the one’s the white folks respect: their own. That is why if we didn’t have a black president, there wouldn’t be this “movement.” It all goes back to the paranoid days of 1950s and 60s. They have the right to be as prejudiced and discriminatory as they want.
The reading is really nothing more than grandstanding and showboating, a fake moment of piety; I’m sure it never occurred to John Boehner that anything slimy and illegal was going in the offices where Dick Cheney and Karl Rove left their stench in, or in the Bush Injustice Department, or in the various regulatory agencies where employees seemed to have been less interested in regulating than checking out Naughty.com and skankwire (according to news reports). I’m also fairly certain that the violations of civil rights that are written into the Patriot Act were only meant to discomfit dark-skinned people—in fact I’m certain of it.
This farcical exercise is indicative of one thing: That the Republicans are deficient in ideas. The incoming Republicans and tea-partiers have no actual plan at all on governing; the only thing that they have promised to do is roll-back health care and finance reform. Or maybe extend gun rights, or try to cut more taxes, or cut those commie “leveling” social programs. Their intentions are inherently destructive, not constructive. The health care system was broken and leaves people even with insurance without needed care for the sake outrageous profits. It was a financial industry that gambled with our money that took down the economy, with “assistance” from federal regulators who were essentially instructed to ignore what the financial gangsters were doing. During the Bush administration, the country lost a net 3 million manufacturing jobs; with renewed profitability, corporations are, however, now making new hires—outside the country.
Most Americans are not tea-partiers, and they have a slightly more long-term outlook than all this pea-brained fake “constitutionalism" that is all about “leave me alone and damn everyone else.” They want things fixed, which means doing something requiring some thought, which Republicans seem congenitally adverse to. What is the Republican “plan” to reverse outsourcing and increase domestic hiring? After all, the business community used the employment blackmail card to get their Republican friends back in office. Well, according to Boehner all this past year, renewing the Bush era tax cuts would do the trick. But that has already been done. So what is a Boehnerhead to do now? The CBO and a study by the Brookings Institute has reported that allowing all of the Bush tax cuts to sunset would only increase hiring by .3 to .8 percent. Forget the fact that the tax cuts had in the end a net negative impact on hiring; much of the tax revenue squelched in the Bush years would have been passed on to states to aid in their economies and maintaining employment. And tax cuts for the top 2 percent are of no assistance whatever to small businesses.
Some are calling this “the tea party-ization” of Congress. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Let’s talk about our “rights” and watch the country go to pot. The media, of course, continues to portray the Tea Party movement as something other than what it actually is: The same expression of extremist white paranoia that has cropped-up from time-to-time in U.S. history, this time cloaking its xenophobia and racism with simple-minded slogans about patriotism and individual rights. The frontmen and women newly elected to Congress might strike a “rational” pose, but the people behind them are nothing but fearful bigots talking nonsense about Communism, socialism, terrorism and perceived anti-whitism, stoked by Fox News blowhards spewing out noxious vapors like possessed people from “The Exorcist,” paid for and supplied propaganda lines by Republican PACS and billionaires for cynical personal and political gain.
We will see if Republican/Tea Party governance is any different than what we have seen before from this ilk: government by subtraction. When the country is need of “fixing,” they do nothing--or more typically, do less. Cutting taxes is not doing something. Cutting regulation has only been shown to have long-term negative consequences. A CBO report last year states that scrapping the health care reform bill would end-up increasing the federal deficit by $455 billion over current projections (because of increased dependence on Medicare and Medicaid) over the next ten years—as opposed to a $30 billion surplus. One cannot escape the conclusion that these Tea Party people have not thought things through. They keeping talking about the deficit, but they didn’t seem to mind it when it was all spent on guns; but when it’s spent on butter—it’s baaad. But as the CBO report pointed out, if we did everything the Republicans wanted to do—no health care bill, no stimulus bill, no rollback on all the Bush tax cuts, we would have a 10 percent higher budget deficit over the next ten years than projected now.
We can be certain of one other thing: The 112th Congress will be nothing like the 111th—one of the most production sessions in almost 50 years. Besides the stimulus package, health care and finance reform, this Congress passed reform bills dealing with abuses by credit card companies, fraud enforcement, weapons system acquisition, and drug-related sentencing guidelines that targeted blacks disproportionately; “Cash for Clunkers” proved to be both popular and effective. These and many other accomplishments will only be appreciated in time; what happens next is unclear, if only because the Republicans have yet to release a “plan,” only “principles” which they have not precisely exercised with precision in the past. If it is anything like previous right-wing dominated Congresses, it will be giving more “rights” to individuals and corporations than they know how properly to use.