Editor's note: ProgressiveTechie is personal friend of mine as well as a new writer when it comes to the political world. As you can probably guess from his handle, he's a professional in the world of technology and programming. He's been a long time reader of TPV, and like us, he goes after evidence and facts. I hope you enjoy his writing! - Deaniac83
The Dems seem to be on a roll this past week. First, there was Rep. Charles Schumer (D-MD) calling out Gov. Scott Walker on his shenanigans regarding the public employees' bargaining rights being essential to balancing the WI state budget. Then, there was the "speechless" statement by Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) which bluntly asked the GOP Reps where their "top priority" jobs bills are after 100 days in session. On Friday, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) tore the Paul Ryan budget a new one:
The guy mumbling and failing to directly answer the question posed is none other than the freshman GOP Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), who got into hot water when he answered the question why blacks voted for Democrats while he was Indiana's Secretary of State back in 2007. In the video, Ellison pointed out that the budget plan recommended by the CPC, a.k.a. the "People's Budget", will turn from budget deficit to surplus in 2021. So, why was it so hard for Rokita to answer such a simple question? Because, according to the CBO's analysis of the alternative fiscal scenario, a.k.a. Paul Ryan's "Path to Poverty" plan, the budget will not turn to surplus until at least 2040! It was funny to see Ellison give Rokita only 5 seconds to answer the question, which would have been abundantly long for an answer of a year number, and when Rokita proceeded to ramble on about nothing, he took the floor back. I mean, either the guy didn't read the CBO analysis report or he's just playing dumb. It could be both, but I am assuming the latter because he would really have hated for Ryan to come TP his house.
The highlight of the day, however, has to come from a deftly crafted maneuver by the House Dems in voting for the 2012 budget. Of course, we all know that the GOP will want the Ryan budget to pass. In a typical attempt by the right wing to make the Ryan budget look more tame, many of the GOP Reps were going to vote "yes" for the more radical plan put forth by the Republican Study Committee. If this amendment had passed, it would replace Paul Ryan's budget plan for 2012. For their ruse to work, however, they needed and were expecting all of the Democrats and some of the more "liberal" GOP Reps to vote no, thereby failing it. The Paul Ryan budget would still be passed later on as they had planned, and the Reps who voted for the RSC budget can say that they tried to pass a more fiscally conservative bill but that they had no bipartisan support.
Unbeknownst to the House GOPs, five minutes before the amendment vote, the press office of House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) sent e-mails onto blackberries telling the Dems to vote "present" instead of "no". What this does is it makes their votes simply not count in the final tally. In effect, the Dems were removing themselves from the equation, leaving the House Republicans to fight amongst themselves to see whether they would want to pass the Tea Party-favored RSC budget or Ryan's budget. This was simply brilliant, and it caught the House GOPs completely off-guard. I am sure when they started hearing all the "present" votes, they picked up on what was happening, but the problem was, many of them had already voted "yes". Thus, some of the GOP Reps had to be goaded into changing their votes to "no" to make sure that the RSC budget plan does not get passed. With a handful of House Dems still voting "no" while the rest voted "present", the bill failed by a margin of 119-136, with 119 Republicans voting "yes" and 120 Republicans voting "no".
This is truly a win-win situation for the Democrats. If the amendment had passed, then it would look really bad to the general public for the GOP to pass such a radical plan. Since it failed, however, it shows the GOP was just creating this puppet show just for the Teabaggers and never really had any real intention of passing the extreme bill. Upon further inspection, we find out that only 119 of the 176 RSC Members voted to pass their own budget. I am curious to see how the members who voted "no" will answer to their Tea Party constituents about this vote. In addition, it further highlights how divided the GOP House is, and truly, a divided house cannot stand. We knew all along that the GOP never really cared about balancing the budget. For crying out loud, in 2000 they had a budget surplus. If they really cared about the budget then, wouldn't they have preserved that surplus as opposed to starting two unfunded wars and also the medicare prescriptions? As we have been seeing more and more of these gaffes in recent days, I can only hope that this is the beginning of the end for a party that lies to get their corporatist, for-the-wealthy agenda passed with actual low regard to represent their middle-class constituents.
On a side note, here's a list of the Dem. Reps who still voted "no" (as opposed to "present") on the amendment:
1) Jason Altmire (D-PA)
2) John Barrow (D-GA)
3) Leonard Boswell (D-IA)
4) Bruce Braley (D-IA)
5) Joe Courtney (D-CT)
6) Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
7) Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
8) Dale Kildee (D-MI)
9) Dave Loebsack (D-IA)
10) Jim Matheson (D-UT)
11) Mike McIntyre (D-NC)
12) Chris Murphy (D-CT)
13) Kurt Schrader (D-OR)
14) Heath Shuler (D-NC)
15) Adam Smith (D-WA)
16) Mel Walt (D-NC)
If you'd like to read more about the game plan by Hoyer, head here. For a video of the pandemonium that ensued while the votes were being tallied, scroll down to the end of this HP post.