What a day it was yesterday for the Republican Party – a rotten, revealing reminder of how they put corrupt Special Interests before the Public Interest.
BP CEO Tony Haward dominated the news cycle playing “Who Me?” possum in his testimony before the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee investigating the Gulf Oil Spill catastrophe. He sounded like an amnesiac mob boss who knew nothing about what his henchmen had been doing on his behalf.
His evasive non-answers were frustrating, maddening…except to the highest ranking Republican on the committee, Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who felt so bad for Hayward and BP that he apologized for what he called the “shakedown” they were enduring at the hands of the American government.
The “shakedown” charge was a reference to the Obama administration’s insistence that BP put $20-billion into an account dedicated to paying the cleanup and compensation costs related to damage their oil spill is doing to America’s citizens, wildlife and environment.
Forget that Republican leadership almost immediately freaked out at Barton’s unexpectedly ugly, bold-faced revelation of the GOP’s core pro-business, anti-American “principles”. The ridiculous retraction and apology they had forced out of Barton by day’s end only underlined their hypocrisy and lack of respect for the American intellect.
Meanwhile, Republicans in the U.S. Senate were busy going far beyond the simple self-serving duplicity and double talk their House brethren were demonstrating. Joined by Nebraska’s conservative Blue Dog Democrat Ben Nelson and Connecticut’s Bad Dog “Independent” Joe Lieberman, every single Republican senator voted yesterday to simultaneously screw over seniors, doctors, the unemployed, poor people, and state governments nationwide.
As a result, a critically important, public-spirited bill advanced by Senate Democrats went down to defeat. The bill would have: extended unemployment benefits for over a million Americans about to lose them; prevented physicians from bailing out on Medicare patients; helped states struggling with meeting their Medicaid obligations to the poor and prevented layoffs of state employees nationwide.
Senate Republicans celebrated their “victory” by blathering on about wanting the bill to pay for itself, about standing firm against deficit spending. They said nothing about millions of vulnerable Americans in desperate need of immediate assistance. They said nothing about the bill proposing to offset costs by raising nearly $30 billion through ending tax breaks for corporations sending American jobs overseas and increasing taxes on wealthy Wall Street fund managers.
Now why would Republican Senators not mention those provisions? What would seem the more likely reason for their blocking the bill overall – its overall cost-benefit analysis or its cost to a select couple of incredibly wealthy special interest groups who happen to be big boosters of the GOP? The Republican Party clearly thinks most Americans are too ignorant or stupid to answer these questions correctly.
All in a day’s dirty work, done in the convenient dark shadows of the BP CEO’s Capitol Hill appearance.