GOP Senatorial primary candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-2) voted to force the two-month payroll tax cut extension – a Senate compromise worked out after the House forwarded a bill larded with unrelated pieces of legislation – into a conference committee. The only reason for doing this was so that House members like Akin could avoid casting an up or down vote on the last-minute Senate compromise. Bear in mind that the only reason that the cut was extended for just two months was because Republicans wanted to continue their dickering for more concessions into 2012.
But now take a look at Akin’s press release about this latest GOP effort to sabotage the recovery:
Congressman Todd Akin, a member of the House Budget Committee, voted to support a series of year end reforms desperately needed in our ailing economy.
Akin supports the House one year extension of the Social Security payroll tax, as opposed to the two-month Senate version. “People need some predictability and a two month alternative does not provide anything close to predictability,”
Let us be clear abut this – Akin can have no deep-seated objections to a payroll tax cut, nor can he really be too disturbed about the two month time period that was agreed upon in order to accommodate GOP efforts to continue to hold essential legislation hostage into 2012. How do I know this? As I noted a couple of days ago, Akin was all for eliminating the payroll tax for a two-month period when it was proposed by Republicans in 2009.
Instead, with this weasel-worded statement, Akin clearly hopes to convince voters that he was actually holding out all along for a longer-term tax decrease, along with those “reforms” he prattles on about. But, by helping kill the Senate compromise, Akin knowingly voted to raise taxes on middle class Americans and deep-six extended unemployment benefits for those who are out of work thanks to the Bush recession he helped create.
As for the tactic of attaching controversial, poison-pill “reforms,” such as the Keystone pipeline, to an essential piece of legislation, the failure of which will harm millions of Americans , Dave Weigel observes that:
In the 2010 Pledge to America, Republicans promised not to attach pet projects to must-pass bills. “No more troop funding bills held up by unrelated policy changes,” they wrote, “or extraneous domestic spending and pork barrel projects.” This might feel like an emergency bill, but they’re just not approaching that way. Nope — it’s a way to get more concessions.
And what did Akin have to say about the Pledge?
This Pledge to America is the beginning of a way forward that respects the U.S. Constitution and embraces economic freedom, lower taxes, fiscal responsibility, protecting human life, cherishing our American values and providing for strong national security. This is the kind of positive change that the people of Missouri want.
Evidently he and his colleagues endorsed the document without reading it. If they had really taken their pledge seriously, we might have seen a lot less gridlock during the past couple of years while the Republican class of 2010 held must-pass legislation hostage to the GOP wish list. And today, of course, middle class Missourians wouldn’t be facing higher taxes next year, while those thousands unemployed through no fault of their own could could rest secure in the knowledge that they would receive unemployment benefits to see them through this hard time.
UPDATE: Read Steve Benen’s excellent take on why the GOP is insisting on a conference committee here.