Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dishonest pols, Big Business, and victory laps

Even after all of the brouhaha on Monday indicating a new lease on life for the 9/11 responders' bill, voting on the act will likely stall in the Senate...again. All of the preliminary reasons for killing the legislation were addressed in the prior go-round; the Bush tax cuts have passed, the bill has been available for review since 2009, the funding has been adjusted, and all of Jon Kyl's delaying-tactic questions have been addressed. So what problems do Senate GOPers have with it this time?
Now, after Senate House Democrats whittled down the amount of the bill and found additional sources of funding for it to satisfy Republican objections, Coburn continues to complain about process. Worse, he is also lying about the bill.

Coburn told Politico that he intends to stall and delay passage of the 9/11 heroes bill.

“The Oklahoma Republican senator and physician — known in the Senate as “Dr. No” for his penchant for blocking bills — told POLITICO on Monday night that he wouldn’t allow the bill to move quickly, saying he has problems with parts of the bill and the process Democrats are employing.”

Coburn also wrongly claimed that the bill was rushed through at the last minute without a committee hearing.

“This bill hasn’t even been through a committee. We haven’t had the debate in our committee on this bill to know if it is the best thing to do, said Coburn this morning on America’s Newsroom with Bill Hemmer.
“This is a bill that’s been drawn up and forced through Congress at the end of the year on a basis to solve a problem that we didn’t have time to solve and we didn’t get done,” added Coburn.
As Think Progress points out, Coburn is is either lying or has a severe memory problem.
“Despite Coburn’s claim, the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions committee did in fact hold a hearing on the bill in June — and Coburn should know as he sits on that committee.”
We can see that Coburn is laying on some pretty thick bull. But why bother? Whatever the current climate on spending is, this type of bill oozes feelings of patriotic sacrifice which goes over well with the average Fox News Channel viewer. At this point (and at this time of the year), passing the Zadroga bill should be a no-brainer, right?

Well, apparently the Chamber of Commerce still isn't liking how the bill is funded:
Instead of ending the foreign corporate tax loophole, Gillibrand proposed a new funding mechanism, including a 2 percent excise fee on certain foreign companies that receive U.S. government contracts. However, the Chamber still believes the bill’s offsets are unacceptable.

Asked for comment by ThinkProgress, Chamber spokesperson Tita Freeman told us that the Chamber takes no position on compensating 9/11 first responders, but absolutely opposes Gillibrand’s new funding mechanism because the Chamber believes it to be “harmful to the business community and the economy.”
That the CoC is putting people's lives at risk (people that became sick after courageously responding to a horrific event, natch) shouldn't be a surprise; note that the CoC lobbied to kill the bill previously, warning "that ending the tax loophole would “damage U.S. relationships with major trading partners” and “aggravate already unsettled financial markets.” Just taking care of Business, as usual.

All of the somewhat premature celebration coming from the Dem side for having passed a few pieces of legislation just might have reminded Senate Republicans that they needed to stick to their plan of obstructing almost all Senate business...can't let the opposition have too much success, lest the idea that Obama got his mojo back sinks in to the public consciousness...and to make sure that their core constituencies of Big Business and Big Money were satisfied once again.

Looks like what was called a "Christmas Miracle" on Monday may get turned into a cold lump of coal.

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