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LOS ANGELES — Watching Congress for the past couple of years, I feel as though I’m trapped at some defunct drive-in movie theater watching a horrible zombie film (are there any others) that instead of the walking dead substitutes the walking Republican dead and is looped over and over.
The latest sequel of the flesh eaters was the Senate’s rejection November 3 to approve President Obama’s $60 billion plan to repair this country’s crumbling, at a minimum, infrastructure and put thousands of the nation’s unemployed to work. Think if you’d lost your unemployment benefits months or even years ago and had the opportunity to put a paycheck back on the kitchen table provided, of course, you still had a place to live and a kitchen table you wouldn’t jump at the chance for work? Keeping to the movies, it’d be a wonderful life, right? But then along comes Sen. Mitch McConnell, er, Mr. Potter to dash the hopes of thousands looking for a paycheck, not a handout.
The $60 billion was part of Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill that has been unanimously rejected by the GOP even though most polls show the majority of Americans support parts, if not all, of the plan. Faced with overall Republican opposition, the Administration decided to break the bill into various segments to put pressure on some Republicans to cross over and give support. Much like fat cats, fat chance.
The requested $60 billion would have been funded by placing a 0.7 percent surtax on people making more than $1 million a year. That would affect about 345,000 taxpayers, according to the Citizens for Tax Justice and added an average of $13,457 to their annual tax bill. Now I’m sorry but I know plenty of people who have been laid off including my co-workers and me who were let go February 6, 2009 from our company and have long since exhausted unemployment and health insurance who would jump at that $13,457 that the millionaires will see added to their tax bill.
And the country, (remember we have a country Senate Republicans?), would have benefited greatly had this bill made the 60-votes that would have prevented filibusters instead of the 51-49 vote it received. About $50 billion was to be directed toward roads, bridges, airports and mass transit, with the remaining $10 billion placed in an infrastructure bank (supported by many Republicans, incidentally) that would have encouraged private investment in large public works projects.
Even the National League of Cities weighed in: “The nation’s cities and towns continue to call on Republicans and Democrats in Congress to set aside their partisan differences and put the country first by passing a jobs plan. Last week, the Senate said no to a proposal to save thousands of teacher and first responder jobs in our communities. Yesterday (November 3), the Senate rejected a $60 billion infrastructure proposal that would help modernize our roads, rails, airports and waterways while creating thousands of jobs in our communities.”
More of the President’s jobs bill will be coming up piecemeal including extending unemployment compensation and the payroll tax cut. If Senate Republicans can’t be bothered placing a miniscule tax on millionaires to fix potholes or ensure more bridges don’t collapse as drivers and their families are crossing, what optimism is left? This country used to stand for something. Now it’s a country standing on one leg with a know- and do-nothing party trying to chop off the other the leg.
But going back to movie analogies again, this time “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” when the black knight has all his limbs hacked off, he’s still shouting at his opponent to come back and I’ll bite you. Well, Republicans in both the Senate and House keep going your obstructionist route and I can pretty much guarantee something angry is going to come back and bite you.