Virginia Republicans Vote Overwhelmingly to Raise Taxes on 160 Million Americans

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    A bit earlier today, the U.S. House of Representatives finally voted, de facto, to raise taxes on 160 million Americans as a Christmas/New Years gift to the country, apparently. Why did they do this? Simple: John Boehner lost control of his crazy caucus, specifically the ultra-rabid parts of it, who wouldn’t even agree to something that Mitch McConnell and the vast majority of Senate Republicans just voted for a few days ago (and that John Boehner supported as well, just a few days ago).  

    Still, isn’t this crazy, you ask, even for people who are…well, completely off the deep end? Yes, but my theory is that the House Teapublican’ts simply can’t abide three things: 1) cutting taxes for non-super-rich people; 2) paying for tax cuts for middle class and working class Americans by raising taxes on the top 1%; and/or 3) giving Democrats and, specifically, President Obama, any sort of political “victory,” even if in doing so they hurt America’s economy. In the end, this will be the Teapublican Tax Increase of 2012, make no mistake about it, and specifically the Eric Can’tor/House Teapublican’t Tax Increase of 2012.

    Speaking of Eric Can’tor, he was one of 7 Virginia Republican’ts (also Forbes, Goodlatte, Griffith, Hurt, Rigell, and Wittman) who voted “aye” earlier today on a bill that was the height of cowardice — refusing to even vote up or down on the payroll tax cut, and instead punting it to a non-existent committee (non-existent, because the Senate left town after overwhelmingly passing the tax cut, expecting that John BONEr would uphold his end of the deal, which he clearly has now failed to do). The only Virginia Republican’t voting “nay” on this bill? Frank Wolf, who apparently must not be worried about a Tea Party challenge this time around, and instead is back to his game of pretending to be a “moderate,” which he hasn’t been for many, many years.

    Needless to say, every Virginia Democrat voted “nay” on this steaming pile of horse manure. In fact, not one Democrat in the entire House voted for this, even the Blue Dogs, demonstrating how completely, wildly irresponsible this was. Did we just watch House Republicans commit political suicide for 2012? It’s certainly possible, and if so, it’s well deserved, for one of the most cowardly acts in Congress in many, many years.

    UPDATE: I’m loving these new poll numbers (e.g., by a 19-point margin, Americans say they have more confidence in President Obama than in House Republican’ts), can’t wait to see what they do after Americans realize Republicans just hit them with a big tax increase, for absolutely no good reason, to start 2012.

    • glennbear

      I certainly hope this serves as a political suicide note for the House GOP however if so it will only be read by the vast majority of Americans and not the Tea Bagger lunatic fringe.

    • Just in Time for Christmas: Rep. Cantor and Other Members of the House Give Virginia’s Unemployed ‘A Lump of Coal’ With Today’s Vote Against Extending Unemployment Benefits and the Payroll Tax Cut

      WASHINGTON, D.C.- Today Virginia members of the House of Representatives including Reps. Cantor, Hurt, Griffith, Forbes, Rigell, Wittman and Goodlatte, voted against the Senate budget bill, which includes an extension on unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut.  Virginians and community leaders are disappointed in the House leadership for going back on their word to support the Senate bill negotiated and agreed to by Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

      The legislation passed the Senate Saturday in a vote of 89-10, and 39 Republicans voted for it. After a weekend of Tea Party pressure, House Republicans flipped positions and decided to oppose the bill.  Today’s vote against extending unemployment benefits and payroll tax cut comes on the heels of a House vote last Tuesday to cut federal unemployment benefits by more than half in some states. The House proposal would cut federal unemployment insurance benefits in Virginia by as much as 14-20 weeks in 2012 and would allow states to start drug-testing every applicant for unemployment insurance.

      If the House does not pass the Senate legislation, or legislation similar to the Senate’s, 1.8 million unemployed Americans will lose their federal unemployment insurance benefits in January and taxes will effectively be raised on middle class families by $1,000. With 273,094 people unemployed in Virginia, the failure to extend unemployment benefits could threaten the state’s economic recovery and make for a demoralizing holiday for Virginia’s unemployed.

      Antonio Brimmer of Martinsville received an unwelcome holiday gift this year in the form of a pink slip and notice that his employer Rock-Tenn would be closing its doors on December 24. Now facing unemployment, the father of three hopes that Congress will protect the benefits that will be his lifeline until he finds another job.

      “My Congressman Robert Hurt’s vote is a lump of coal for the unemployed,” said Antonio Brimmer of Martinsville.  “With unemployment as high as it is in Southside, it’s unconscionable that Rep. Hurt would vote against extending unemployment benefits and giving the middle class a tax break. Someone needs to wake these politicians up and introduce them to reality.

      “The unemployed are not looking for a handout. I have been working since I was 16 years old and at age 42 have never collected unemployment in my life. But times are tougher than they have ever been and unemployment benefits are a necessary lifeline for the unemployed.”

      Del McWhorter, Vice-Chairperson of Virginia Organizing added, “Millions of unemployed workers won’t be the only ones hurt if Congress fails to responsibly extend the federal unemployment insurance program through 2012. Economists estimate a loss of up to $22 billion in economic activity next year and the loss of an additional 140,000 jobs if the program is allowed to expire.

      “Now House Republicans are using conference committee gimmickry to fool the public into thinking they are working hard on this before the end of the year. When in fact, most members of the House are leaving Washington tomorrow for the holiday break, unsure and clearly unconcerned whether a deal is actually reached.”

    • VirginiaOrganizing

      The conference committee nonsense is the kicker. Is the chair of said committee a unicorn or a dragon? They are not staying to hammer this out. I’m sure Reagan and Dulles will be full of very concerned House Republicans who are going to be hammering this out on their flights home tomorrow!

      They could care less whether a deal is brokered in their absence or not. We’ve got to give Frank Wolf some credit on this one.  

    • NotJohnSMosby

      1) Republicans don’t vote for an extension at all, and the first of many “temporary” tax cuts is gone.  I have no qualms with saying that every single tax cut of the last 11 years needs to go away, that we absolutely need to return to the Clinton tax structure in all ways except on estate taxes, where a reasonable increase in the non-taxable threshold was definitely needed.  

      2) Republicans do a deal on a plan different from the Senate, and the Teabaggers go nuts.

      3) Republicans in the House vote for the simple Senate extension, and Boehner and Cantor look stupid while the Teabaggers go nuts.

    • The vote is in. Minutes ago, Tea Party Republicans blocked a bipartisan bill to extend President Obama’s payroll tax cut.

      Now, middle class Americans could see their taxes increase by $1,000 on January 1st unless Speaker Boehner, Eric Cantor and House Republicans back down from their extreme stance.

      It is up to us to ensure that voters in their districts are aware of the damage that House Republicans are wreaking on behalf of the Tea Party fringe and the top 1%. We are just $7,659 short of our $100,000 Rapid Response goal that we need to reach before Midnight Tonight.

      Contribute $3 or more to our Rapid Response Fund right now and we’ll hold Tea Party Republicans accountable with targeted advertising and calls. Act now and House Democrats will match your gift dollar-for-dollar >>

      This Republican Tea Party tax increase will hurt the middle class and obstruct the economic recovery. And they know it.

      Help us hold them accountable. Donate today >>

      Thank you,

      Nancy Pelosi

    • THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Good afternoon, everybody.  It is no secret that there hasn’t been an abundance of partisanship in Washington this year.  And that’s why what happened on Saturday was such a big deal.

      Nearly the entire Senate — including almost all of the Republicans — voted to prevent 160 million working Americans from receiving a tax increase on January 1st.  Nearly the entire Senate voted to make sure that nearly 2.5 million Americans who are out there looking for a job don’t lose their unemployment insurance in the first two months of next year.  And just about everybody — Democrats and Republicans — committed to making sure that early next year we find a way to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance through the end of 2012.

      But now, even though Republicans and Democrats in the Senate were willing to compromise for the good of the country, a faction of Republicans in the House are refusing to even vote on the Senate bill — a bill that cuts taxes for 160 million Americans.  And because of their refusal to cooperate, all those Americans could face a tax hike in just 11 days, and millions of Americans who are out there looking for work could find their unemployment insurance expired.

      Now, let’s be clear:  Right now, the bipartisan compromise that was reached on Saturday is the only viable way to prevent a tax hike on January 1st.  It’s the only one.  All of the leaders in Congress — Democrats and Republicans — say they are committed to making sure we extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance for the entire year.  And by the way, this is something I called for months ago.

      The issue is, is that the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate worked on a one-year deal, made good progress, but determined that they needed more time to reach an agreement.  And that’s why they passed an insurance policy — to make sure that taxes don’t go up on January 1st.

      In fact, the House Republicans say they don’t dispute the need for a payroll tax cut.  What they’re really trying to do, what they’re holding out for, is to wring concessions from Democrats on issues that have nothing to do with the payroll tax cut — issues where the parties fundamentally disagree.  So a one-year deal is not the issue; we can and we will come to that agreement, as long as it’s focused on the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance and not focused on extraneous issues.

      The issue right now is this:  The clock is ticking; time is running out.  And if the House Republicans refuse to vote for the Senate bill, or even allow it to come up for a vote, taxes will go up in 11 days.  I saw today that one of the House Republicans referred to what they’re doing as, “high-stakes poker.”  He’s right about the stakes, but this is not poker, this is not a game — this shouldn’t be politics as usual.  Right now, the recovery is fragile, but it is moving in the right direction.  Our failure to do this could have effects not just on families but on the economy as a whole.  It’s not a game for the average family, who doesn’t have an extra 1,000 bucks to lose.  It’s not a game for somebody who’s out there looking for work right now, and might lose his house if unemployment insurance doesn’t come through.  It’s not a game for the millions of Americans who will take a hit when the entire economy grows more slowly because these proposals aren’t extended.

      I just got back from a ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, where we received the flag and the colors that our troops fought under in Iraq, and I met with some of the last men and women to return home from that war.  And these Americans, and all Americans who serve, are the embodiment of courage and selflessness and patriotism, and when they fight together, and sometimes die together, they don’t know and they certainly don’t care who’s a Democrat and who’s a Republican and how somebody is doing in the polls and how this might play in the spin room.  They work as a team, and they do their job.  And they do it for something bigger than themselves.

      The people in this town need to learn something from them.  We have more important things to worry about than politics right now.  We have more important things to worry about than saving face, or figuring out internal caucus politics.  We have people who are counting on us to make their lives just a little bit easier, to build an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded.  And we owe it to them to come together right now and do the right thing.  That’s what the Senate did.  Democrats and Republicans in the Senate said, we’re going to put our fights on other issues aside and go ahead and do what’s right on something we all agree to.  Let’s go ahead and do it.  We’ll have time later for the politics; we’ll have time later to have fights around a whole bunch of other issues.  Right now, though, we know this is good for the economy — and they went ahead and did the right thing.

      I need the Speaker and House Republicans to do the same:  Put politics aside, put aside issues where there are fundamental disagreements, and come together on something we agree on.  And let’s not play brinksmanship.  The American people are weary of it; they’re tired of it.  They expect better.  I’m calling on the Speaker and the House Republican leadership to bring up the Senate bill for a vote.  Give the American people the assurance they need in this holiday season.

      Thank you.

    • Venu

      Was a “nay” or “aye” vote preferable?