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Posted at 7:04 PM ET, 12/ 9/2010

Republican hypocrisy in the lame duck Congress

By Stephen Stromberg

If you've ever wondered what the term "situational ethics" means, just look at how the Republicans were against this lame-duck session of Congress before they were for it. And why? Could have something to do with a phrase that begins with "t" and ends in "ax cuts."

In August, the GOP used the prospect of a Democratic majority even convening a lame-duck session this year as a campaign issue, intimating that sneaky liberals would take the opportunity to pass heaps of government-takeover-type legislation. Every Republican in the House but one voted to block a lame-duck session of Congress from sitting, barring a "national emergency." Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), then a candidate, told Post columnist Marc Thiessen that, should he win a special election to fill President Obama's old Senate seat, he'd keep the chamber silent. Thiessen:

Kirk says, "The only legitimate thing for the Congress to do is to pass a short-term continuing resolution to keep the doors open -- and let the voice of the American people as communicated through their new representatives and senators speak in January."...

Barring an emergency, Kirk would oppose passage of any major legislation before the new Congress is seated. "There is something unseemly about defeated congressman and senators exercising any significant power," he said. Asked if he would oppose a lame-duck session even if the GOP leadership was pushing for one, Kirk said, "Yes."

And now that Congress is considering an $850 billion tax cut package -- hardly just a "short-term continuing resolution" -- the same principle applies, right?

Here's what Kirk said over the weekend: "Congress should set its highest priority on preventing the massive tax hike currently scheduled to hit our economy on Jan. 1." Preventing. Not fixing it after the next Congress sits. Kirk may only have been in the Senate for a handful of days. But he seems to be getting the hang of it.

How about Speaker-designate John Boehner, who voted in August to block the lame-duck? Here's what he's said: "The lame-duck Congress should do the right thing and vote immediately to cut spending and stop all the tax hikes."

So it's unseemly for the Democrats to consider anything in a lame-duck session, unless they're passing things that Republicans like. I suppose GOP politicians could have argued -- all too conveniently -- that the public in the last election voted in favor of maintaining the Bush tax cuts, therefore doing so now has some legitimacy. Except that doesn't nullify the full sanctimony of the argument against the lame duck that folks such as Mark "Continuing Resolution" Kirk made. The only real argument they can offer is that preventing a tax-rate rise, instead of retroactively lowering them in January, is a national emergency. Fun with semantics.

The truth is probably that House Republicans such as Boehner knew that the Democrats would still call a lame-duck session, so their opposition during the election yielded them some free political points without translating into a paralyzed legislative branch. Still, why are they cooperating now? Kirk's case makes somewhat less sense. As a senator, he can do much more to incapacitate legislative work even if the chamber is in session, which was what he discussed with Thiessen. Oh well.

The GOP's August anti-lame duck campaign bothered me because procedural arguments such as these so often hijack principle, misusing it to the extent that principled arguments become devoid of meaning beyond the political context in which they are invoked. Sure, this happens a lot in Washington. But unless you're Michel Foucault or this one obsessively post-modern instructor I didn't get along with in grad school, it should be easy to see how such naked cynicism damages political discourse.

By Stephen Stromberg  | December 9, 2010; 7:04 PM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  | Tags:  Stephen Stromberg  
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Comments

Fiscal conservatives don't add 900 billion to the deficit. Fiscal conservatives don't talk about spending cuts while increasing spending. If Republicans are the party of Fiscal conservatives they should start acting that way.

Posted by: NewThoughts | December 9, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Ten years of Bush tax cuts to create jobs and a robust economy and HERE WE ARE! This is nothing more than borrowing money on the nations tab to give to the rich. Republicans count on the naivitee and absence of rational thought to manipulate their witless supporters, and thanks to our failing school system, they get more followers every day.

Posted by: mrtimmaulden | December 10, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Ten years of Bush tax cuts to create jobs and a robust economy and HERE WE ARE! This is nothing more than borrowing money on the nations tab to give to the rich. Republicans count on the naivitee and absence of rational thought to manipulate their witless supporters, and thanks to our failing school system, they get more followers every day.

Posted by: mrtimmaulden | December 10, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Republicans wanted to increase Troops in Afghanistan; When Obama sent more they claimed that NOW it's Obama's war, NOT BUSH's.

So here we go again; the Bush Economy will become a Talking Point for Republicans in the next Election Cycle; It's Obama's Failed Economy to Reign in Deficit Spending.

Posted by: ddoiron1 | December 10, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

The Democrats decided the election was more important that our country. Without this session, taxes would rise, the government would shut down, Medicare doctors would leave, and the country would essentially collapse.

Instead, the Democrats think it's more important that there are gays in the military and amnesty for illegals. Budgets, taxes, and spending issues are too hard.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | December 10, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Ten years of Bush tax cuts to create jobs and a robust economy and HERE WE ARE! This is nothing more than borrowing money on the nations tab to give to the rich. Republicans count on the naivitee and absence of rational thought to manipulate their witless supporters, and thanks to our failing school system, they get more followers every day.

Posted by: mrtimmaulden |
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I guess one of two things from your comments.....

1) you were still in grade school during the Bush Presidency. or...

2) Your ambitions didn't allow you to prosper with the remainder of the country for the first 6 years of his presidency.

Look at the history during the first 6 years, Millions of new jobs created, The greatest majority of Americans personal wealth increased, low unemployment and on and on.

Then the democrats took over congress with Botox Nancy and slime Harry during his last two years in office, we have seen everyone's personal wealth commence to dwindle, Along comes and inexperience individual to take over the reins and we saw the economy sinking into one of the largest recessions in this nations history, we have seen this once great nation of ours turned into a third if not fourth world economy under the democrats.

keep living in la la land, This nation will recover, in spite of you liberals

Posted by: frankn1 | December 10, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

frankn1, I think it's you who are living in la la land. Job creation under George W. Bush was 3.0 million. Under Clinton it was 23 million and under Reagan it was 16 million. If tax cuts are so great why were so few jobs created under Bush?

Posted by: karkoe | December 10, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

@frankn1:
Do really want to be throwing names like 'Botox Nancy' around when she's being replaced by 'Orange John'?
.
Please tell us what specifically you're against that Obama has done? Saving the auto industry? Trying to get healthcare to 30 million people? Lowering people's taxes? Turning a nosediving economy into a slowly growing one in under 2 years?
.
The GOP is against Obama but when you get down to what they are against it's funny, because he's doing the very same things they used to champion.
.
Or they claim he's turning us into a socialist country. News flash, we already are. Medicare, *Social* Security are socialist programs and without them we wouldn't have the economy we do today. Helping the lower class is the best investment the 'upper' class can make. It gives them more people to buy their stuff.
.
Much like Global Warming, the GOP has screamed that its fake and prevented anything to do with encouraging these industries. News Flash, if the *entire* world wants to buy eco-friendly products, why in the holy hell aren't we MAKING IT FOR THEM? So much for the GOP being the party of 'business'. It's the party of 'old business' that doesn't want to change, not about growing the economy unless it enriches the existing rich.

Posted by: rpixley220 | December 10, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Another point of hypocracy.. Last month
Obama was the village idiot. Today these same guys consider him a master political strategist and and the greatest economist since Adam Smith!

Posted by: CINQDOIGTS | December 10, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Another point of hypocracy.. Last month
Obama was the village idiot. Today these same guys consider him a master political strategist and and the greatest economist since Adam Smith!

Posted by: CINQDOIGTS | December 10, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Another point of hypocracy.. Last month
Obama was the village idiot. Today these same guys consider him a master political strategist and and the greatest economist since Adam Smith!

Posted by: CINQDOIGTS | December 10, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

[@ 8:51:05 PM on 12/10/2010 Waterloo1 wrote: "...Republicans want him dead..."]
= = = = = = =
See, there you go again Water, that's why you Jack-Wagon Ridin', Foot-Draggin' tools of the Progressively Progressive Purgatory bound Brink-Fodder Machine always seem surprised at what most with a conscience have known all along.

You need to read the new book WE have written, while sitting on your comfortable little sofa chair watching the Old Media-Government Complex now known as ABMSNBDNCNNBS. It is called "JOURNALISM IN THE TOILET FOR DUMMIES ".

This President is at a crossroads, straight ahead with the SOSO, hasn't worked yet middle of the left branch, turn further to the left, preside over the end of his own paradigm, or be a hero that could be the nominee for both parties in 2012.

The Election of Nov 2, 2010, has brought a fresh, energized, determined pantheon of not-so Clueless Young Amateur Patriots that stepped into the whistling wind at the brink, boarded the USS Golden Goose, and sailed US back to the shore of the good land of 'Prosperity', and Plenty of IT. Those who have placed their hope for change in these folks deserve more than a 2% reduction in payroll tax, a patchwork of more complicated tax breaks for some, and the promise of more uncertainty out into the next two years. When we need a glass at least half full we are supposed to settle for a paper cup with another hole in it?

This nation needs TAX AMNESTY, not compromise, not trade-offs, not tax cuts extended, not tax credits, NOT HOLDING UN-EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS HOSTAGE TO POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY. The following exists on the internet, and has been sent to some of you already:

We are imploring the Department of the Treasury to forebear and suspend the collection of any wages, profit, and/or interest/principle for the period of one year.

{We are petitioning the Congress of the United States of America to enact in the most expeditious manner a law to collect (a fair share of) revenue from the 50 States and Those Protectorates in Proportion to the distribution of population certified by the Census of 2010, and further enact a codicil (ensuring the) graduating (of) the responsibility of each and every Jurisdiction based upon the level of un-employment in that Jurisdiction. So have WE been empowered, so should it be considered, forthwith.}

This would be a victory, a validation, a vindication for ALL, A RETURN OF ECONOMIC STABILITY TO AMERICA, AND A CALMING OF THE WORLD FINANCIAL MARKETS.

Posted by: SpendNomore | December 10, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse

[@ 8:51:05 PM on 12/10/2010 Waterloo1 wrote: "...Republicans want him dead..."]
= = = = = = =
See, there you go again Water, that's why you Jack-Wagon Ridin', Foot-Draggin' tools of the Progressively Progressive Purgatory bound Brink-Fodder Machine always seem surprised at what most with a conscience have known all along.

You need to read the new book WE have written, while sitting on your comfortable little sofa chair watching the Old Media-Government Complex now known as ABMSNBDNCNNBS. It is called "JOURNALISM IN THE TOILET FOR DUMMIES ".

This President is at a crossroads, straight ahead with the SOSO, hasn't worked yet middle of the left branch, turn further to the left, preside over the end of his own paradigm, or be a hero that could be the nominee for both parties in 2012.

The Election of Nov 2, 2010, has brought a fresh, energized, determined pantheon of not-so Clueless Young Amateur Patriots that stepped into the whistling wind at the brink, boarded the USS Golden Goose, and sailed US back to the shore of the good land of 'Prosperity', and Plenty of IT. Those who have placed their hope for change in these folks deserve more than a 2% reduction in payroll tax, a patchwork of more complicated tax breaks for some, and the promise of more uncertainty out into the next two years. When we need a glass at least half full we are supposed to settle for a paper cup with another hole in it?

This nation needs TAX AMNESTY, not compromise, not trade-offs, not tax cuts extended, not tax credits, NOT HOLDING UN-EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS HOSTAGE TO POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY. The following exists on the internet, and has been sent to some of you already:

We are imploring the Department of the Treasury to forebear and suspend the collection of any wages, profit, and/or interest/principle for the period of one year.

{We are petitioning the Congress of the United States of America to enact in the most expeditious manner a law to collect (a fair share of) revenue from the 50 States and Those Protectorates in Proportion to the distribution of population certified by the Census of 2010, and further enact a codicil (ensuring the) graduating (of) the responsibility of each and every Jurisdiction based upon the level of un-employment in that Jurisdiction. So have WE been empowered, so should it be considered, forthwith.}

This would be a victory, a validation, a vindication for ALL, A RETURN OF ECONOMIC STABILITY TO AMERICA, AND A CALMING OF THE WORLD FINANCIAL MARKETS.

Posted by: SpendNomore | December 10, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

frankn1, you don't know what you are talking abot. The bush tax cuts created nada...the least amount of jobs created in anyh administration sionce the Depression and that was BEFORE the economy tanked under bush and the gop budget, passed while the gop held both Houses. bush created the bank bailouts, supported strongly by a tearful boehner, who implored the repubs to pass it. Under bush bank regulations were removed or disregarded. The wealthy 2% saw their income rise dramatically while the middle class so no increase at all. The jobs the cuts were suppsoed to create never happened, at least not in America, as the corporations used repub tax breask to create jobs overseas. All this talk about the wealthy having to pay more taxes is bunk. If any are paying ther real tax rate, then they better hire better accountants or tax lawyers to show them the loopholes.

Posted by: mikel7 | December 10, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Attend, those willing to learn: We have just heard that letting people keep the money they earn by the fruits of their labor is "borrowing it from the Chinese to give it away". We have further heard that taking money from one group of people and giving it to a different group of people that happens to be favored by Washington in the hopes that they'll spend it on Government-approved activities is an "Investment" or "Stimulus" without considering what the money would be doing had it stayed with the person that actually earned it in the first place. Please consider the distortions that must take place in order for us to accept either of those propositions.

Posted by: r8rsfanjeff | December 11, 2010 4:06 AM | Report abuse

In 2012, the republicans will blame Mr. Obama for the deficits ultimately caused by the tax cut that they themselves insisted upon. It's a "cant't lose" political strategy for the republicans.

Posted by: ginabw | December 11, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

In 2012, the republicans will blame Mr. Obama for the deficits ultimately caused by the tax cut that they themselves insisted upon. It's a "cant't lose" political strategy for the republicans.

Posted by: ginabw | December 11, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Conservatives are strangers to the concepts of fiscal responsibility, moral behavior, and caring for the citizens of the United States. At best, they are just peckerwoods.

Posted by: Freethotlib | December 11, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Listening to Republicans talk about taxes is like listening to a rapist talk about safe sex.

Posted by: timothy2me | December 12, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

THIS HAS to be REPOSTED

Fiscal conservatives don't add 900 billion to the deficit. Fiscal conservatives don't talk about spending cuts while increasing spending. If Republicans are the party of Fiscal conservatives they should start acting that way.

Posted by: NewThoughts | December 9, 2010 9:27 PM

Posted by: monstermash | December 12, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

I have lost the respect I had for the GOP because it is no longer a party of principle.

Just two examples of this lack of principles:

I was raised a few miles south of the home in southwest Ohio of the Speaker-to-be. There a man's word was sacred. The Speaker-to-be was a signer of the Contract of America with its commitment to term limits. One signer (J. C. Watts) kept his word. Scores of others, including the Speaker to be, did not. They showed their character, and it is not good enough for them to be Members of the Congress. What should they do? They should keep their word, belatedly to be sure, and resign immediately. This putting adherence to one's sacred word before party and personal political ambition could have a transformative effect for the good on American politics.

The GOP insists that the deficits and debt are our most serious problem, and this comes from spending too much. They then insist on cuts in revenue. Not even a step toward corresponding cuts in spending, much less the much larger cuts in spending required for meaningful movement toward ending the deficits and opening the way to a decrease in the debt by beginning again to pay it down and reducing our Chinese banker's control over us. What is one to make of this? Hypocrites is the modest of the descriptors that come immediately to mind. What would the GOP do if it acted on principle? The GOP would set forth the specific spending cuts required to balance the budget and begin to pay down the debt, and insist on implementing these spending cuts as the first order of business, and to more than cover any decrease in revenue. If they won't do that, end the double talk and be consist and responsible: commit to supporting specific revenue increases when the economy improves that will lead to elimination of the deficits and to begin again paying down the debt.


Posted by: jimb | December 12, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm struck by the comments that Democrats have no heart. Aren't these the same people who have been excoriating Dems as "bleeding heart liberals" for the past 40 years? The Republicans' great strength is that they can shamelessly lie about everything and it doesn't bother them a bit to be called hypocrites and liars. They just move on to the next lie and the next and the next....

Posted by: rbmurals | December 13, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

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