Last week when House Republicans dropped their previous spending plans and announced their intention to spend $1 billion of stimulus money on a tax cut, Chris Kelly derided it, not for being illegal, but for being histrionic:
“We’ll have a parade and some clowns juggling,” said Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia. “It’s all show.” Kelly said it was too late to forge a consensus on a tax cut.
He’s right, of course. This nonsense will pass in the House, then the Senate will put the kibosh on it. But far be it from the House leadership to let reality or the legislative rules crimp their style. Ron Richard knows this plan won’t fly, but he’s willing to indulge in parliamentary shenanigans for a chance to play to the tea partyers.
Knowing that the tax cut provisions would have to clear the House by the end of this week and that Republicans would never get the new plan out of the Budget Committee that fast, he put the tax cut provisions into HB 22 and sent it to Rules. But since tax cuts are an appropriations matter, transferring it to Rules is not only a silly charade but also an abuse of the legislative process.
Now, it’s not like Democratic members of the Rules Committee didn’t get the memo about this bill being dead on arrival in the Senate–no matter which committee it came out of–but they know kabuki theater when they see it and they just flat ran out of patience Monday with the grandstanding. They walked out of the committee hearing.
Jake Zimmerman says that playing hide and seek with this bill by shifting it to Rules shows a lack of respect for the Democratic (not to mention the Republican) Budget Committee members. Rachel Storch, according to Zimmerman, is very good at poring over budget figures. She and her colleagues spent hard weeks working on the budget that the Republican leadership is now trashing. And Zimmerman objects not only to that disrespect but also to being put in costume and asked to play a part in this little drama whose sole purpose is to rile up the wingnuts with lines like: “‘We think Missourians’ hard-earned dollars belong in Missourians’ pockets.'”
As if eight years of Bush tax cuts did anyone but the wealthy any good. No, it’s galling that they can spout such fatuous cliches when you consider that:
Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford, D-St. Louis, said estimates showed that the GOP’s plan would send 70 percent of the $1 billion in tax relief to the wealthiest one-fifth of the state’s taxpayers.
So enough already. Democrats on the Rules Committee decided to do a little grandstanding of their own and they walked out.
And got one upped:
After they left, Majority Leader Steven Tilley, R-Perryville, deleted money slated for construction of a new Ellis Fischel Cancer Center in Columbia. Tilley diverted the funds to community colleges, Southeast Missouri State University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
What? Is this junior high school?
Tilley noted that the Democrat who represents Ellis Fischel — freshman Rep. Stephen Webber of Columbia — had left the meeting.
“My job is to represent my district,” Tilley said after the meeting. “His job is to do the same, and he went AWOL.”
He forgot to add, “Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah.”
Cancer victims in Columbia had better hope that when the sane Senate restores the budget the House just gutted, that the upper chamber also sees fit to restore the funds for the cancer center.
Too bad it’s not within the grasp of Senate Republicans to restore some semblance of sense or moral authority to their puerile counterparts in the House.