What Just Happened in the Lame-Duck Congress

“Appropriately, the tax bill passed and the spending bill died on the 237th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party.” –NRO

Despite the attempts by Reid and Pelosi to govern against the will of the people as expressed on Nov 2nd, America did well yesterday. A very bad pork-filled spending bill was stopped, and the possibility of a massive tax hike on January 1 was stopped as well. Good news.

The New York Times spins hopefully, asking: Could the lame-duck be a big win for Obama?

Nope. These are not ‘victories’ for Obama, but a victory against folly. It’s dishonest to talk of this compromise as a ‘tax cut’ bill, all it does is merely extend the current rates in place for 2 more years. It’s a status quo tax rate extension. As such, any claims of immediate success or tragedy are wrong – it is more of the same. No, it will not be bad for the deficit – not compared with trillions in stimulus, spending, pork and govt takeovers that are the real cause of the deficit.

The good part of the tax bill is that with the continued Bush tax rates, the middle-class pays less than they would have (thank you President Bush for that middle-class tax cut that the Democrats seem to refuse to acknowledge you made happen back in 2003), and with the overall tax rates maintained and payroll tax holiday in place for a year, the economy is on surer footing, and economic uncertainty is less. Yet it’s not as if this will instantly supercharge the economy. Unemployment benefit extension may indeed continue to do what his has been doing – induce slower returns of employees to the workforce at a time when a new job may mean a downsized salary for many. The rest of it – ethanol subsidies, some of Obama’s trinkets – are of no use to our economy, and so only a ‘win’ for the deal-making that is so wrong with DC.

While the tax which is why the loss of the $1.1 trillion spending bill is both more consequential, important and GOOD for America. That pork-infested earmark-laden over-spending bill is everything that is wrong with DC politics, and Reid’s attempt to cram it down the senate was an act of political and economic sabotage against American taxpayers and voters. The exposure of the earmarks had chastened Republicans to get off the gravy train and left the bill bereft of support, even though Reid wanted to continue the over-spending past the expiration date. Hint: The Expiration date for over-spending, massive deficits and Government overreach was Nov 2nd.

Now the lame-duck Congress has only one responsibility: Go Home.

The only win for Obama here is how the combination of incompetence and extremism on his own side made an easy tax deal seem hard (causing him to look smaller and less capable than his predecessor-advisor Bill Clinton), and how he avoided looking as foolish as Pelosi and Co. by actually realizing that the Nov 2nd election did have consequences. Yet his churlish, disrespectful and ungrateful way of talking about his Republican counterparts (after he made his deal) and even his liberal critics shows both his leadership skills and his skin are both quite thin. I am not the only one who noticed that Obama blew the politics of the compromise. It will be a rough 2 years.