If you’re a regular viewer of the show, you’re probably just as tired of the “political pro wrestling” on Capitol Hill as we are. As the year comes to a close, it doesn’t look like the posturing is slowing down.
Yesterday, we talked about — yet again — another possible government shutdown, the chances on unemployment benefits being cut, and the expiration of major tax cuts that could end up costing you and I $1,000 each if Congress keeps dragging its feet.
“We need global debt restructuring. We need massive trade reform. We need massive review of the costs in our health care system. We are not even talking about those things,” said Dylan on the show yesterday. “These are pieces of popcorn that fell out of the bucket that we’re arguing about. And if we can’t resolve who gets to pick up a piece of popcorn off the floor, how are we going to be able to deal with these large issues?”
Yesterday, President Obama today tried his best to invoke Teddy Roosevelt as he defended the largest bank bailout in history, all while he attempting to invoke income inequality as political rhetoric heading into election year. In a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, he told a crowd:
This isn’t about class warfare. This is about the nation’s welfare. It’s about making choices that benefit not just the people who’ve done fantastically well over the last few decades, but that benefits the middle class, and those fighting to get to the middle class, and the economy as a whole.
Finally, a strong middle class can only exist in an economy where everyone plays by the same rules, from Wall Street to Main Street. As infuriating as it was for all of us, we rescued our major banks from collapse, not only because a full blown financial meltdown would have sent us into a second Depression, but because we need a strong, healthy financial sector in this country.
Right in line with the “pro wrestling” screenplay, Republicans spent the day slamming the Democrats’ so-called compromise attempts on the payroll tax extension. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on the Senate floor that “this was nothing more than another bill designed to fail, so Democrats can have another week of fun and games on the Senate floor while tens of millions of working Americans go another week wondering whether they’re going to the see a smaller paycheck at the end of the year.”
When it comes to the power dynamic between these two parties, as we approach the end of the year, how much of it can we attribute to presidential election year posturing (all of it?) And how much of it can actually be resolved?
We talked to NBC News’ Capitol Hill correspondent Luke Russert for an explanation. Here’s what he told us:
- The Democrats are going to bring a vote on the Senate floor about this new compromise deal that Harry Reid has showcased. It would make the payroll tax cut holiday less expensive, bringing it down from about $240 billion down in the hundred billions. But that is not supported by the GOP, because part of the pay for it is still a surtax on millionaires. The GOP has said before that any kind of surtax on millionaires is a no-go in the House, so it will not garner a lot of Republican support in the Senate.
- You’ll see Democrats go forward with this plan. The attempt will be able to say in December of 2012 that Republicans voted against a tax cut for the middle class in favor of protecting their friends who are wealthy.
- Later we expect to see a payroll tax cut by the GOP, continuing the freeze of federal salaries where they are right now until 2015, as well as restructuring federal workers’ benefits and pension plans. That is going to be voted through the House, which will most likely pass — but that has no chance of going anywhere in the Senate. That allows Republicans to also have the ad saying “we supported a pay recall tax holiday by cutting spending.”
Gov. Ed Rendell, former Pennsylvania governor, told us he saw one thing as the height of hypocrisy. “When Republicans are asked why they don’t raise taxes on the top 2%, they always come up with a line, ‘because it would harm the job creators,’ it would stop us from creating jobs. Because there are many small businesses who file individual tax reforms. Well, the Democrats in their compromise proposal took care of that. They exempted businesses that file under sub-chapter S. So they don’t even that that argument to full back on,” said Gov. Rendell.
“The only people who will pay the surcharge are individuals who make more than $1 million. And good lord, they can contribute to making this a fair country. So it’s the height of hypocrisy,” said Gov. Rendell.
He broke down some telling statistics, all of which go back to our need for The Great 28 Debate about finally getting money out of politics.
“Back in 1981, we were $680 billion a year in corporate tax breaks, in the tax code. Those were all the result of effective lobbying. This past year, it was $1.2 trillion. Almost double. $1.2 trillion of corporate tax breaks in the tax code. If we got rid of them, even if we lowered the rate from the 35%, which no one pays, to 25%, we would generate about $1 trillion in income, in new revenue a year. over a ten-year period, that’s $10 trillion. That almost takes care of the entire projected federal deficit,” said Gov. Rendell.
Why aren’t we doing it? As Gov. Rendell told us, “Because there are lobbyists to defend each and every one of those tax loopholes. Each and over one of them has a strong lobby organization behind it. The only way we’re going to stop the power and influence of special interests that is really screwing up the finances of this country, the environment of this country, everything else, is to have a 28th amendment that says, yes, you can limit campaign expenditures. You can have real campaign reform, real limits on what special interests contribute to politics. And it has to come,” said Gov. Rendell.