The New Rules

Well, yesterday was the first actual day of business for the House of Representatives, after their week of game-playing and juvenile tactics.  I spent many years of my career in management positions and while I always tried to be fair, I didn’t put up with any b.s. and expected staff members to work as a team to get the job done, whatever it took.  Today, we are all in management positions in a sense of the word … our elected officials are our staff … we pay their salaries with our hard-earned tax dollars, we are their employers and they serve at our will, and are expected to do the best job possible on our behalf.  So, let’s take a peek in at what they accomplished on their first day on the job.

The main thing they ‘accomplished’ yesterday was to pass a new set of rules for the House for the coming two years.

It really isn’t any wonder, is it, that the House Republicans want to eliminate the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) … I mean, ethics?  They aren’t quite sure what the word means, but they know that they have none, so why do they need an agency for something they don’t have?  They couldn’t quite just eliminate the office altogether, so they chose to hamstring it instead.  They set term limits of eight years for all members, and any sitting members of the OCE who have already been there for eight years are out as of now.  This effectively removes all but one Democrat from the OCE.  Coincidence?  Of course … such honest people wouldn’t attempt to pad such an important office, now, would they?  I’m certain it is merely coincidence that the OCE was preparing to open an inquiry into certain Republican congressmen over their conduct related to the January 6th attack on the Capitol.

As expected, the new rules package includes a rule that permits a single lawmaker to force a vote to “vacate the chair,” allowing a snap vote to remove the speaker.  This is gamesmanship and nothing I really care about, beyond the fact that it has McCarthy by the short hairs and pretty much assures he will give in to the whims of the radical right branch of the Republicans rather than follow his … um … conscience?  Oh yeah … sorry about that … I sometimes forget that he has no conscience … he sold it long ago.  The only reason I do care somewhat is that it will lead to instability and I strongly suspect McCarthy won’t last as Speaker until the end of the calendar year.

In 1979, the House passed a rule called the Gephardt rule after then Representative Dick Gephardt, that automatically raised the debt ceiling when a budget was passed.  It prevented passing legislation but not funding it, a trick that had been used more than a few times.  Yesterday, however, the House eliminated the Gephardt rule … a move that will almost certainly lead to chaos by mid-summer when the national debt reaches its current ceiling.  Now, the Republicans either don’t understand the debt ceiling, or they know their constituents don’t understand it and therefore they can play their usual games and pull their rabbits out of the hat to fool some of the people all of the time!  The latter is my guess.  I will no doubt be writing more in-depth about the debt ceiling soon, for it is possibly one of the most pressing issues, or will become so, of this Congress.  The consequences of failing to raise the debt ceiling are potentially lethal.  I wonder, though, how the Republicans will sell it back in their districts when elderly people are being evicted from their homes and cancer patients are dying?

They also included a rule that will make it harder to raise taxes, as any bill that would raise taxes would require a 60% majority to pass.  Gee, you don’t think they did this because Democrats have said they plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest people and corporations, do you?  Nah, surely not!  Well, if you want to fund a government, you need income as well as outflow, and right now, the wealthiest in the nation do not pay their fair share … percentage-wise, they likely pay less than you or I do!  But they have something you and I don’t have … they own the congressional Republicans.  We the People cannot afford to give millions of dollars to political candidates, and thus they favour the wealthy 1% over the rest of us.

Passing this rules package was likely the only thing the House of Representatives will actually accomplish this year, for the focus of the majority party in the House is not governance, but rather obstruction.  As their employers, I am going to be suggesting that we continually monitor their activities and call/email/write when we are displeased with what they have done or are doing.  The things the Republicans have said they will do border on fascism, my friends.  It’s easier to nip it in the bud than to oust it once it has taken root.  We will also need to take any and every opportunity to educate those who don’t understand, who fall for the lies and rhetoric of the Republicans, and who are easily distracted by the shiny objects such as all these ‘investigations’ they are threatening to conduct that will come to naught, but will be excitement for their followers.