Monday, December 12, 2011

One issue at a time?

In it's Pledge to America, the incoming Tea-Party Republicans pledged that they would
end the practice of packaging unpopular bills with “must-pass” legislation to circumvent the will of the American people. Instead, we will advance major legislation one issue at a time.
The extension of the payroll tax cut would seem to qualify as "major legislation," but the House Republican's bill definitely does not qualify as "one issue at a time." The bill's description "to provide incentives for the creation of jobs, and for other purposes" says it all.

The bill has six major sections (Titles), only the first purports to deal with job creation, and the second actually contains the extension of the payroll tax break. So what's in the bill?
  • Title I -- requires that the Obama administration act on the Keystone XL pipeline application, suspends several regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, and gives depreciation tax breaks to businesses.
  • Title II -- extends the payroll tax break and emergency Unemployment Insurance (UI) payments through 2012 but also makes other changes to the UI program, applies the "doc fix" and other changes to Medicare, requires offsets for the costs of the "doc fix," and extends and modifies the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF or cash welfare) program.
  • Title III -- covers the Flood Insurance Program.
  • Title IV -- covers auctioning of the broadband spectrum and public safety communications.
  • Title V -- lists funding offsets, including increasing the fees that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac charge borrowers, changing federal retirements, freezing the pay of federal workers, and and increasing Medicare premiums for high-income people.
  • Title IV -- contains "miscellaneous provisions.
That's a lot of issues at one time. That's also a broken pledge.