Less than three months after being carried to power on the shoulders of the Tea Party, House Republicans have decided to literally spit in the eye of their benefactors -- by using their first major vote to advance a huge deficit-increasing bill.
That's right. The Republicans plan to vote to increase the deficit by $230 billion -- that's billion, with a "b" -- in their first official vote of this new Congress.
Cloaked in the guise of a repeal of the national health care plan, the GOP's efforts, if successful, will only serve to drag our nation into greater fiscal distress. Increasing the federal budget deficit by $230 billion, all in pursuit of a knee-jerk, right-leaning ideology that opposes anything President Obama does, seems immoral and backwards -- and will most certainly incur the wrath of the very Tea Partiers who lifted the GOP to majority status.
Can House Republicans really be so tone-deaf? Talk about the audacity of nope!
I'm not saying I'm surprised. But this attack on health care reform is truly abominable - and shows the true hypocrisy of the Republicans. It's not just the increase of the deficit. Take Rep. Steve King of Iowa, a vocal opponent of Obama's health care reform law. King said yesterday that he has no plans to give up his own federally subsidized health care plan, even as he publicly discusses his desire to dismantle President Obama's plan to extend affordable health care to millions of uninsured Americans.
In an interview with CNN, King was asked about fellow Republican Rep. Joe Walsh, who reiterated on Tuesday that he will forfeit his insurance coverage because it presents a conflict of interest with his own hope to kill Obama's reform plan. When asked whether he would follow in Walsh's footsteps, King's utter lack of self-awareness was on full display:
I don't intend to pull off of it, but I give [Walsh] a lot of credit for that... I went to Chicago to help him in the campaign, and I give him a lot of credit for standing on this principle.
Unfortunately, guys like King are calling the shots now -- and this is a harbinger of the uphill climb facing all advocates for rational, commonsense policies that will help everyday Americans through hard economic times.
But they tell us this is politics, I guess. Get elected by saying you'll cut the deficit -- then immediately vote to explode it. Oppose a plan that allows millions of Americans to get the same health care you receive as a member of Congress -- but make sure you keep your Cadillac insurance plan for yourself.
This is why, when possible, we need to find solutions that start at home. We need to circumvent politics and get real results where they matter: on the ground in communities across America.
This approach is working with clean energy and energy efficiency, both commonly lumped together as contentious "issues" that are dissected in debates and campaigns. But they're really consumer issues. When we take them out of Congress and put them into terms that make sense to American consumers, they become tools for expanding the clean energy marketplace and creating new jobs for those who desperately need work.
Why circumvent Congress? Because even if the climate bill hadn't sputtered out last year, who's to say that Boehner and Co. wouldn't be on the House floor promising to repeal it right this very minute? If we keep putting our entire clean energy future in the fickle, changing hands of government, all it takes is an election to change the tide.
So 2011, we'll be working harder than ever to keep the tide rolling in the right direction -- in cities, towns and communities across America. While the GOP divides and dissembles -- and neglects our energy challenges -- we'll be working to break down barriers to clean energy and energy efficiency understanding and adoption. I truly believe that this is the best way to make America's clean energy future a reality.
After all, we won't accomplish much if we wait around for Rep. Boehner and Rep. King to get the job done. Unless the job is reversing economic recovery in America, that is.
Follow Brian F. Keane on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SmartPower_org