The U.S. Senate finally passed a modest but helpful bill that will assist the nation's many thousands of small businesses by providing tax breaks and much-needed loans as they continue to struggle through the nation's worst economic crisis in our lifetimes.
This obviously should have been done months ago -- and it would have, but a determined minority blocked it. The Democratic majority only got it passed today because two Republicans finally jumped ship and switched their votes to break their party's blockade of the bill. The Senate Republicans actually held up help for America's small businesses in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression 75 years ago. This is simply outrageous!
RenMin has a diary with some of the details
As the New York Times described it, "Democrats surmounted months of opposition by Republican leaders" even though "the bill could spur business growth and new hiring," according to its supporters. (Emphasis added).Times description Even today, it was only with the votes of two Republican Senators who are retiring, and therefore have one foot out the door (George Voinovich of Ohio and George LeMieux of Florida), that the Democratic majority was able to bring the bill up and get it passed over otherwise-unified Republican opposition. The Rs filibustered this bill in an effort to ensure that it couldn't get passed even though a hefty majority of Senators supported the bill!
One of those two Republicans who finally broke ranks to support it, Sen. Lemieux, said this about the bill:
"I’m just glad we were able to pass it." He noted that Florida has more than 2 million small businesses that stand to benefit from the legislation.
Was there some good reason for Republicans to block this bill? They are United States Senators, after all, sworn to uphold the Constitution and (I assume) concerned with the welfare of the country and its citizens. Why would a United States Senator block such an obviously helpful bill in the midst of an obvious national (even global) crisis? What were this bill's flaws? Surely this bill must have some terrible drawbacks or flaws to convince not just one but all forty-one of the U.S. Senators who happen to have an "R" after their names to unite to not just vote against this bill, but to actually blockade and filibuster it and prevent the large majority of Senators from even bringing the bill up for a simple majority vote!
What could this bill's terrible flaws be? Why did every Republican Senator united to prevent the passage of such a seemingly-useful bill?
Here is why 39 of 41 Republicans Senators tried desperately to kill this bill, according to the New York Times: because it didn't go far enough! Here is one Republican Senator's explanation:
"Any good in this bill is greatly outweighed by what’s missing," said Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah.
I'm sorry, but that is just outrageous! The Republicans acknowledge that this bill provided critically-needed help in the midst of a ruinous economic crisis, but they oppose it because it wasn't helpful enough?!
That's a moronic enough reason to vote against the bill -- because it was quite helpful but it could have been better -- but it's an especially idiotic reason to actually blockade the bill to prevent it from coming up for a majority vote. It makes no sense at all to filibuster a bill and try to kill it because it is good but could be better.
If the stated reason makes no sense at all, then why did they do it?
I hate to say this, but I think the Republican minority actually blockaded this bill because they just don't want the Democrats in Congress and the Democratic President to pass helpful legislation that might ease the nation's pain before an important election.
I think that is absolutely outrageous, and I think someone on the Democratic side should call them out on it.
Mr. President, you are the leader of the party.
Call out the Republicans for bottling up and delaying a bill that will help millions of Americans in this time of real economic suffering. Ask them to justify their outrageous behavior! You have tried time and time again to extend a hand and work with them, and they have spurned you every time. Sen. DeMint said it right up front, right at the beginning of your administration: he wanted to "break" you -- and he and his party have been trying desperately to do just that right from the day you took office. You owe them no more attempts at cooperation and reconciliation.
You owe it to the country to stand up for us and call them out on their mindless, nakedly partisan, destructive obstructionism!
Mr. President: rip them a new one!