The party of fiscal and cultural insanity, the Republicans, who are more interested in totally destroying Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, any remnant of the progressive safety net for citizens, and more interested in hating gays and women and minorities and the poor and middle class than in actually governing for the good of all, almost got their tail caught in the door of a vote in the House Friday.
In a flurry of last minute flipped votes, the House Republicans managed to stop themselves from passing a budget bill that would have embodied what they proclaim are their most treasured notions of how to save America by cutting $9 trillion dollars from the budget and destroying Medicare, Social Security, and pretty much the entire social safety net for Americans.
They had the votes to pass the bill. It was mere minutes away from passage. But thanks to a few brave Republicans who were willing to swallow their pride and retract their victorious ‘YES’ votes, to change their vote on a bill they have been telling America they most want to pass, they managed while teetering on the brink of success to jerk themselves back from the jaws of victory.
Brian Beutler on TPM has a great report on How Democrats Railroaded Republicans Into Almost Passing A Budget Too Conservative For Them
The Republicans in the house let a version of the budget come to a vote on the house floor, an extremely conservative version that had come out of the extremely conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC). Now anyone who knows how this works knows the real reason for letting this come up for a vote. The Republican leaders would be able to let the Tea Partiers and the most conservative in the party be able to vote ‘YES’ on the red meat issues so they could go home and strut proudly about what a great job they were doing. But they would be saved from what they know would be the devastating consequences of their actions if really enacted into law, saved by the gutless Democrats, as usual, who would provide enough ‘NO’ votes to kill the bill.
Well, a very, very funny thing happened on the way to the final vote.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) heard about what was happening. He is reported to have said after the ensuing Republican debacle:
“I thought to myself the Republican leadership is probably thinking we’re going to defeat it for them,” Hoyer told me in a phone interview Friday. “I said to myself I’m not interested in seeing that happen. I want the Republicans to show what they believe. And if a majority of them believe that that’s the kind of budget [they want] the American people need to know that.”
The budget introduced by the RSC, which included a devastating $9 trillion in cuts, is so bad it makes the more mainstream Republican budget that was to be introduced next look almost moderate in comparison. They intended it to be just a symbolic vote, the usual red meat thrown out to satisfy their gullible followers, knowing full well there was not a chance in hell it would actually pass, nor that they would have to deal with the consequences of having actually passed it. In other words, just the usual hypocrisy of the politicians of the Republican party.
Steny Hoyer, instead of acting like the usual clueless Democrat caught in the tail-lights of history, decided to actually use some of his knowledge and experience of the process. He knew that if the Democrats responded before the vote, the Republicans would work their caucus to ensure the bill really had no chance of actually passing, for Pete’s sake, which the Republican leadership never intended. So instead of risking leaking a plan to give the Republicans a heads up, Hoyer only worked with the Democratic leadership, and gave the Democrats in the House only five minutes notice on the strategy they were to follow.
“I also knew that if we telegraphed that early, they would obviously try to anticipate it, work their caucus early,” he said. “As a result I did not have a whip meeting on this — I did discuss it with the Leader [Nancy Pelosi], I discussed it with the Democratic leadership. I told them it was my plan. And they were all for that.”
And what was that strategy?
“Then today, I had a meeting with my senior whip team, assigned them around the floor, and then just before the vote…we sent out an email to the BlackBerrys of our members saying that a). we want you to vote late, b). we want to vote present,” Hoyer explained. “And then on the floor, my whips explained to members why we were doing that.”
Why vote present? Because that makes a majority of the votes cast, regardless of any quorum, pass the legislation.
What happened on the floor after that in the Republican camp was pure keystone cops hilarity.
The vote was on the Republican Study Committee’s alternative budget — a radical plan that annihilates the social contract in America by putting the GOP budget on steroids. Deeper tax cuts for the wealthy, more severe entitlement rollbacks.
Normally something like that would fail by a large bipartisan margin in either the House or the Senate. Conservative Republicans would vote for it, but it would be defeated by a coalition of Democrats and more moderate Republicans. But today that formula didn’t hold. In an attempt to highlight deep divides in the Republican caucus. Dems switched their votes — from “no” to “present.”
Panic ensued. In the House, legislation passes by a simple majority of members voting. The Dems took themselves out of the equation, leaving Republicans to decide whether the House should adopt the more-conservative RSC budget instead of the one authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. As Dems flipped to present, Republicans realized that a majority of their members had indeed gone on the record in support of the RSC plan — and if the vote closed, it would pass. That would be a slap in the face to Ryan, and a politically toxic outcome for the Republican party.
So they started flipping their votes from “yes” to “no.”
In the end, the plan went down by a small margin, 119-136. A full 172 Democrats voted “present.”
From the same article, it is reported that the Republicans still carried on after the vote with what was obviously their original plan, tell the faithful how hard they tried, and how close they came, but gosh gollies they just could not get this budget past those awful obstructionist Democrats who stand in the way of greateness.
Moments after it failed, RSC Chairman Jim Jordan took to Facebook.
“Our Republican Study Committee (RSC) balanced budget came within 18 votes of passing on the House Floor today,” he wrote. “I am disappointed we did not win, but this is the closest we have ever been to passing our balanced budget. I am motivated to keep fighting to balance the budget and begin paying down our national debt.”
You will note, of course, that nowhere in that statement does Jim Jordan bother to mention to the faithful that the Republicans in the House had it within their grasp to pass the bill, but killed it themselves, without any help from the Democrats, because they knew it was a sham, and they had no intention of passing it to begin with. It was only defeated because a handful of Republicans scrambled to flip their votes at the very end to avoid the embarrassment of having actually passed this draconian RSC budget proposal.
Of course, once the Republicans recover from the shock of having been played so beautifully by Hoyer and the Democrats into revealing their blinding hypocrisy for all to see, they probably won’t fall for it again.
“It depends on whether they continue to offer policies that are clearly inconsistent with the American mainstream,” Hoyer reasoned. “If they continue to do that their members are either going to have to decide early that they’re going to have to vote against those policies, or they’re going to be back in that position.”
Sadly, most Americans will remain uninformed of the true significance of this episode on the floor of the House Friday.
And what a shame that is.
If reported by the mainstream media at all, it will be glossed over, and there will be no real analysis or explanation of what really happened. And of course, as seen above in the immediate Facebook post by the RSC Chair, the ultra-right wing will not explain to their base what really happened. It will be portrayed as one more almost victory, and its failure blamed on the Democrats.
The Republicans will certainly not explain to their constituents that they had enough votes to pass the bill, but they killed it, all on their own, because they never wanted it to pass in reality.
After all, it would not do for the marks to realize how completely they are being taken.
This post has been faxed to Representative Todd Young, IN-09; Indiana Senators Dick Lugar and Daniel Coats; The White House; House Speaker John Boehner; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid; and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD); and posted on this web site, http://keepamericafree.com. The web site provides links to documents on the web supporting the statements in this letter.