Obstructions and avoidance

Where the money comes from and where it goes has deadlocked the U.S. government for quite a while and this year’s end is no exception. The Senate is more than 900 days overdue on its required annual budget duties and, without an annual budget for a guide, fiscal matters take on an approach much like the individual who lives paycheck to paycheck and keeps finding his credit card bill harder and harder to pay. NRO describes the most recent episode in The House, Harry Reid, and the Payroll Tax. A pattern is emerging with many facets: short term and temporary fixes, obstruction in the Senate, the blame game (often to rhetorical excess, it seems), and political gamesmanship.

Having failed — not once, but multiple times — to offset the payroll-rate cut with a new surtax on job creators, Senate Democrats were forced to huddle with Republicans to find common ground. What they came up with were enough offsets to fund a 60-day extension, mostly via increased fees on Fannie and Freddie. …

The Senate plan, then, was to pass the temporary extension, send it back to the House, and enjoy a lengthy Christmas holiday. The New Year, they seem to believe, will bring with it fresh opportunities to kick the can down the road. But the 60-day extension is both irresponsible and unworkable, and House Republicans were right to hold the line against it, even if it keeps Congress in Washington through these holy nights.

NPRC warns that a last-minute, temporary extension of the payroll-tax cut could create chaos for small businesses, causing “substantial problems, confusion and costs affecting a significant percentage of U.S. employers and employees.”

By contrast, the House bill is paid for by, among other things, extending the federal pay freeze, reforming government-employee pensions, introducing modest means-testing to Medicare, and stepping up (sadly necessary) efforts to prevent millionaires and illegal immigrants from improperly receiving government checks. Such reforms should hardly be controversial, let alone a cause for which Senate Democrats are willing to make 170 million American taxpayers suffer.

While the President lambastes Republicans as ‘do nothing’, the House has passed a budget bill and many other bills aimed at addressing the government’s fiscal problems. Many of these have been declared “dead on arrival” by the Senate majority leader. As in this case, it is the Senate playing political gamesmanship and promoting conflict and confrontation. As long as the public buys their allegations and finger pointing, this will likely continue.

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