Republicans in the U.S. House missed a golden opportunity when they put the unchanged “fiscal cliff” tax bill up for a vote.
If the Senate-passed bill was to be considered (a mighty big “if”), the House first should have scrubbed it like they did the Hurricane Sandy relief bill. Both were laden with pork. That was too much dirt for the Sandy measure, but the lard in the tax bill got a free pass from the House GOP.
Requiring a “clean” tax bill would have publicly exposed the hysterical hypocrisy we’ve heard from the Left and from the media (but I repeat myself).
A liposuction of the pork would have forced the Senate to return to session to approve the amended and cleaned-up bill. Had they been willing, Senators could have acted quickly, as they had just proven they could do.
Middle class Americans were used as pawns to create a headlong rush for tax relief. As they drove this runaway train, the Left snuck aboard their agenda of bigger government and crony capitalism.
Only if the pork was first stripped out should the House GOP have permitted the bill to be enacted with mostly Democrat votes. That would not make it good legislation, but at least it would have been better.
Not even Gov. Chris Christie would have dared defend that fattening-up of the all-important middle class tax relief. And if they tried, President Obama and the Senate would have been stammering like Lindsay Lohan in front of a probation officer.
Imagine their claim: “We refuse to approve tax relief for the middle class until the House Republicans approve our handouts to Hollywood, our toast to liquor distillers, and our windfalls for windpower.”
It would have been ridiculed from coast to coast that the middle class was being held hostage by special interests and their Democrat friends! The public howling would even have drowned out the voice of Ed Schultz.
New Year’s Day was a chance for resolute conservatives to turn the tables on the relentless propaganda machine of the liberal big media (and their friends in the White House and Congress).
In a sea of bad GOP maneuvers, stripping out the pork would have been the lifeline. A winner.
Until the Senate acted in the wee hours of New Year’s morning, while Times Square was still packed, all complaints about pork barrel taxing and spending were only theoretical. But the reality became as visible and undeniable as that big crystal ball once everything was put into writing in the Senate’s 154-page bill.
Exposing this was a chance for House Republicans to prove that the left’s rhetoric about middle-class tax relief is as phony as a pick-up line in a cheap bar. That Obama’s professed love for middle-class earners is a secondary emotion. That his true love is an all-powerful state with him in charge. That his loathing of upper-income earners is far stronger than his affection for the middle class.
The fiscal cliff tax bill is a blown opportunity.
This was their chance for conservatives to take the high ground.
This was their chance to position themselves as principled guardians of good government.
This was the New Year’s Day bowl game for House Republicans.
Instead, on the very first day of 2013, they fumbled the kickoff.
Former Congressman Ernest Istook hosts the daily "Istook Live!" radio talk show; listen at www.istook.com, 9 a.m. to noon (Eastern time) Monday through Friday. He is a distinguished fellow at The Heritage Foundation.