Scuttling off into the night, House Republicans fled the Washington, D.C. scene late Thursday night after grabbing the nation's disaster victims hostage and issuing a ransom demand of $1.6 billion. Republican kidnappers had earlier in the week fallen out over how much ransom to demand, as some in the gang figured their original demand for $1.5 billion from a successful auto industry job-creation program wasn't enough. In the end, Republicans upped their ransom demand to $1.6 billion, adding $100 million from another Energy Department program that guaranteed clean energy loans.
In a bipartisan 59-36 vote Friday, the Senate quickly rejected the House GOP's demand for $1.6 billion from those programs in exchange for $3.65 billion in disaster relief. Even conservative stalwarts at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers were appalled at the GOP perfidy, warning that cutting those programs would eliminate thousands of jobs.
Republicans attached the disaster relief to the continuing resolution that funded the government beyond Sept. 30, yet again threatening yet another shutdown if they didn't get their way.
"While we moved a responsible bill, it's time for the Senate to move the House-passed bill," House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters Friday after his minions had fled town for a week-long recess, making negotiating the ransom demand impossible. "It is really the most responsible thing to do, and any delay that occurs because of inaction by the Senate will only imperil the needed disaster relief for thousands of families all across the country."
"There has never been an offset for disaster assistance," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reminded everyone.
"We are now watching the Tea Party shutdown movie for the third time this year," Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) told MSNBC's Morning Joe Thursday. Unless Congress could agree to a temporary resolution to keep funding the government, it could be forced to shut down in October.
"Listen, there's no threat of a government shutdown," Boehner had said Thursday. "As long as our demands are met," no one heard him mutter under his breath.
Republicans demanded that Americans choose between funding tornado, earthquake, hurricane and flood relief and funding relief from the economic disaster Republicans fomented with their fiscal policies.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) wanted Americans to give up rebuilding their economy so his wealthy cronies in Virginia's 7th Congressional District could get pricey makeovers for their McMansions. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) wanted Americans to abandon a program that moved production of the Ford Focus from Mexico to Michigan and the Nissan Leaf from Japan to Tennessee so her state could get money to rebuild houses destroyed by a flooding on a floodplain.
"Disaster assistance is absolutely critical for my district," whined Emerson, who apparently didn't give a fig about the unemployment disaster she was exacerbating by gutting the job-creation program.
Cantor and Emerson hated that the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program they wanted to gut had already created 40,000 jobs, reviving an entire industry that didn't just build cars, but all the parts that went into them. Cantor and Emerson and Republicans hated that the auto industry provided ordinary Americans with good-paying jobs that actually let them buy the things they made.
"Again, while the Chamber understands the importance of reducing America's unacceptable debt and believes that all programs must be on the table," said Bruce Josten for the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce, "the Chamber urges you to bear in mind the facts about the ATVM loan program, which promotes manufacturing in the U.S...."
Cantor and Emerson didn't want the American economy to be revived while Barack Obama was president. Cantor and Emerson and all their GOP ilk not only didn't want to revive an auto industry that had showed the world how to build cars, they didn't want to revive a nation that had given the world the car culture, with LA freeways and hot rods and low riders and muscle cars and beach music and drive-ins and fuzzy dice and tuck-and-roll and Candy Apple Red and Suzanne Somers in a white T-bird.
Cantor and Emerson figured America should just give all that up and subcontract it out to Korea.
Cantor and the people of Virginia's 7th Congressional District believed they were entitled to millions in disaster relief, but that people elsewhere weren't entitled to relief from the GOP economic disaster. Emerson and the people of Missouri's 8th Congressional District figured they were entitled to rebuild over and over on a floodplain, but people elsewhere weren't entitled to rebuild the nation's economy.
Given that the Commonwealth of Virginia already received $1.51 in federal spending for every dollar in federal taxes it raised, perhaps America should just get on with remaking its auto industry and tell Virginians they'd already gotten as much as they were going to get. Given that the great state of Missouri already received $1.32 in federal spending for every dollar in federal taxes it raised, perhaps America just should get on with revitalizing its car culture and tell Missourians to go jump in their floodplain.
Cantor and Emerson and the Republican breed figured Americans should just hand all their money to the GOP and die of cervical cancer, as Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) wanted by withholding HPV vaccine, or die of any disease, injury, or illness, as the cheering, hooting audience at the CNN/Tea Party presidential debate Sept 12 wanted by witholding medicare care from the uninsured and insurable, or simply be consigned since childhood to the GOP-shielded torture camps secreted in Emerson's Missouri backwoods.
Or, Americans could just ditch the GOP, and drive off in that white T-bird.