| The GOP extortionists, pushing American hostages to the cliff. |
By Rich Galen
ALEXANDRIA, VA. - New Year's day 2013. Football games? No. Parades? No. Hangover cure? No.
I spent the entire day in Old Town watching the Chasing Classic Cars marathon on USA as background noise while focused on Twitter following the U.S. House Republicans wringing their hands over what to do about the Senate-passed bill to crawl back up the fiscal cliff.
Without getting into the weeds about things like (according to CNN.com) extending the excise tax carry-over on rum produced in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; a federal tax of which most is paid back to the islands, the big talking point in the Senate bill is increasing the income level on which Federal income tax rates will rise from the President's long-held position of $250,000 for a married couple filing jointly to $450,000 for couples.
Calling a family with an annual income of $250,000 "wealthy" was a tough case to make. Calling a family with an annual income of nearly a half million "wealthy" is much harder to deny.
Dear Mr. Mullings:
Hold it right there, Baba-Louie.
I have here in my hands a copy of the U.S. Constitution what says in Article I, Section 7, Clause 1
"All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills."
How can this bill, that obviously "raises Revenue" have originated in the U.S. Senate? Isn't that unconstitutional?
The National Association of Jail House Lawyers
Yeah, well … you overheard someone at the Starbucks say this and you're trying to sound smart.
What you forget is the House and Senate have been finding ways to bend the rules - even the Constitution - to their benefit since March 4, 1789.
In fact is that what the Senate did was take a bill that had passed the House, H.R. 8, originally introduced by Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) in March of last year and titled "The Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012."
That was the bill amended by the Senate ("the Senate may propose .. Amendments as in other Bills") and sent back to the House. There is standard amending language that begins "Delete all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu thereof …" the next 2,700 pages of the new legislation.
The bill was re-titled to the "Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012,} but it was still a House number and so was a Constitutionally acceptable Revenue bill.
Rep. Camp, by the way, is Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee which is the committee in charge of all legislation regarding taxes, so it is still his bill that the President will sign.
While the House Conference met on-and-off through the day, I believe it was Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) who was the first to say flat-out that this was the best deal they were going to get and they should take it.
According to Reuters, Cole said on MSNBC at about 11 yesterday morning:
"We ought to take this deal right now, and we'll live to fight another day, and it's coming very soon on the spending cut.
"We know the essential details and I think putting to bed this thing before the markets [open on Wednesday] is really a pretty important thing to do."
The vote on H.R. 8 (officially the vote was on a motion to concur in the Senate Amendments) passed easily by a vote of 257-167.
85 Republicans voted for the motion; 151 against.
172 Democrats voted for the motion; only 16 againt.
It concluded at shortly after 11 PM. If they'd just have listened to Cole they could have been out of there in plenty of time to watch the Rose Parade and the President could have been landing in Hawaii.
So. The 112th Congress ends with a cliffhanger (pending a possible vote on Hurricane Sandy relief today) - we can now wait until the start of the 113th Congress at noon tomorrow and see just how rickety the temporary bridge the Congress and the President has built across the fiscal cliff really is.
They haven't done anything to solve the debt crisis, but the new Congress - and the President on January 20 - will have a brand new road and a bunch of shiny new cans to kick down it.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the Library of Congress page on H.R. 8 and a really terrific Mullfoto of San Francisco at midnight January 1 taken from across the Golden Gate.