When Republicans officially took control of the House in 2011, they were still promising their entire focus was job creation, and yet they began the 112th Congress attacking women’s rights, voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and fighting to preserve tax cuts for the richest Americans. Now, three years later House Republicans’ first three actions were attacking women’s rights, launching a repeal effort of another 2010 law, and passed legislation to enrich the dirty energy industry. Republicans are proving to be resistant to change and in less than three weeks they have shown Americans that they have no intention of changing and are on pace to waste another year pandering to their special interests instead of working for all Americans.
It is unquestionable that Republicans fully intend to waste taxpayer dollars doing nothing over the course of 2014 because none of the first three pieces of Republican legislation will get past the Senate or President Obama’s veto pen and they know it. However, they will make points with their campaign contributors and garner support against President Obama from two of their reliable voting blocs; fundamentalist Christians and dirty energy advocates. Remember that last year House Republicans failed to take up immigration reform, pass a farm bill, create jobs, or raise the minimum wage, and it looks like they have no intention to address those important issues this year.
The latest sign Republicans are deliberately wasting time is the party’s first attempt to repeal a law, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), approved in 2010 after a tax-avoidance scandal involving a Swiss bank. FATCA is an anti-tax dodging law targeting the filthy rich by requiring most foreign banks and investment funds to report to the IRS information about U.S. customers’ accounts worth $50,000 or more. According to Erin Donar, a Treasury Department spokeswoman, “FATCA continues to gain momentum and international support as we work with partners around the world to fight offshore tax evasion.”
Will repealing the law create even one job, contribute to GDP growth, or address the income inequality devastating the economy? Of course not, and Republicans admit the only reason for pushing the repeal effort is to “make overseas Americans far more sympathetic to Republicans and have an impact on fundraising” according to senior fellow at the Cato Institute, Daniel Mitchell. Republican Senator Rand Paul attempted to repeal FATCA last year under the guise of protecting rich tax dodgers’ privacy, but his phony “privacy issues” concern is cover for helping the rich hide their money off-shore. A Republican National Committee official from Oregon who is leading the Republican repeal effort said, “I see FATCA just like Obamacare, it will attract American overseas donors.” If the effort is successful, the only beneficiaries would be Americans in the top 1% of income earners like Willard Romney who hides their earnings offshore to avoid paying taxes. The repeal effort is another typical Republican waste of taxpayer time and money.
The first piece of legislation on the House Republican agenda was the so-called “rape audit” bill (H.R. 7) that is the ultimate expression of government overreach into business, individual Americans, and patient-doctor relationships. It is also a significant tax hike on businesses and any American with a healthcare insurance policy; it is also an assault on women. The bill taxes companies that offer health insurance plans that cover family planning, eliminates the tax deduction for health insurance if it covers family planning, redefines the term “healthcare insurance,” and forces the healthcare insurance industry to eliminate family planning coverage or pay a healthy fine. Rape audit refers to requiring a rape victim who sought an abortion to prove to an Internal Revenue Service auditor that they were “legitimately raped” to claim a deduction under healthcare expense on their tax return. Republicans like Diane Black (R-TN) said last year that the IRS has “no business accessing or monitoring Americans’ personal health information,” and Michelle Bachmann warned against granting the IRS access to people’s health-care information, while Renee Ellmers (R-NC) said “we cannot allow the IRS to have any say over our health and wellbeing.” However where women’s rights and healthcare is concerned, the Republican religious right will force, by legislation, the IRS to access, monitor, and audit women’s health and wellbeing. Will the “rape audit” bill create one job, boost GDP growth, or address income inequality decimating the economy? No, but it empowers the religious right to control when a woman starts a family and puts Republicans between a doctor and their patient.
Last Thursday Republicans passed three anti-environment bills consolidated into one to neuter the EPA’s ability to monitor, inspect, and enforce regulations that are already in place to keep the air and water clean. The Republican legislation eliminated requirements that the EPA review regulations under the Solid Waste Disposal Act, restricts the EPA from imposing regulations on states, and requires all federally owned facilities to comply with state requirements regarding dumping hazardous substances in the air and water in Republican-controlled states that have no regulations. It also requires the President to consult with Republican-controlled states for their permission to enforce federal environmental laws. The legislation will never get passed in the Senate and President Obama assured Republicans he will veto it if it did pass. The anti-environment legislation continues where the recently passed spending bill left off stripping the EPA’s power.
Republicans attached riders to the budget that strips the salary of the White House’s climate adviser, stops the EPA from implementing carbon dioxide emissions limits, and slashes funding to fight global climate change. It also requires President Obama to report to Congress in detail what, if any, government spending will go to addressing global climate change within 120 days of his 2015 budget request, and eliminates the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emission permits covering emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, water vapor and methane emissions. Will stripping the EPA’s ability to monitor pollution and enforce regulations already in place create jobs, grow GDP, or address income inequality? No, but it sends a signal to the dirty energy industry that Republicans are working to give them free rein to dump toxic chemicals into the water supply and spew carcinogens into the air so the energy sector will increase Republican campaign donations.
This session of Congress began with a plethora of issues that demanded attention to get Americans back to work and address income inequality that is retarding economic growth. There has been no House action to reinstate unemployment benefits for millions of out-of-work Americans, pass a farm bill, address immigration reform, raise the minimum wage, or restore food stamps for 48 million Americans suffering because Republicans are too busy wasting time to create jobs. Instead of addressing the issues important to Americans, Republicans attacked women’s rights, environmental protections, and a law to prevent the rich from avoiding taxes all to waste taxpayer money and time and garner greater donations for the next election. None of the Republican legislation creates one job, grows the economy, or boosts GDP growth because that is not their focus; pandering to their special interests is.
Republicans have no intention of working to help the people, or doing what the voters say is important such as immigration reform, raising the minimum wage, creating jobs through infrastructure repair, or allowing women to decide when they start their families. However, the religious right wants to control women, the dirty energy industry wants to destroy the environment for greater profits, and the richest one-percent want to avoid paying taxes, so Republicans began 2014 the same way they started the past three years; working solely for their special interests’ campaign donations and against the American people.