NYTs Editorial: The Bills to Nowhere

Just as we’ve been saying since the GOP released their Summer Agenda, today’s New York Times Editorial takes House Republicans to task for their misplaced priorities, taking up political bills instead of focusing on restoring our economy and creating jobs.

Some highlights:

“Yet the House … won’t move the stalled transportation bill, holding up billions of dollars — and millions of jobs — on road and transit projects, apparently out of fear it might help the economy and thus the political fortunes of Democrats.”

“So far, the House Republicans have done little but show that they have no real interest in governing.”

Read the full New York Times Editorial below:

The Bills to Nowhere

Published: June 7, 2012

This is now the pattern of business in the House of Representatives: Spend most of the time passing bills designed not to become law but to satisfy the ideological desires of conservative voters. And block laws that actually need to get passed.

This colossal waste of time, punctuated by moments of real destruction, has been going on since early last year, and is well-illustrated this month. The House voted Thursday to repeal crucial parts of the health care reform law, and an upcoming bill would make government regulation virtually impossible. None of these bills have a chance of enactment. In the meantime, though, House Republicans won’t bring up a desperately needed transportation bill.

Political-message bills have sprouted like weeds in the last few years, the product of extreme polarization and stalemate. Elected officials have to show that they’re doing something, so they propose bills designed only to create a talking point against the other side. Senate Democrats do it, too. The Paycheck Fairness Act, which was predictably filibustered to death by Republicans on Tuesday, was the latest example. We supported that bill as an important vehicle for reducing the wage gap between men and women, but the principal reason Democrats introduced it was to embarrass Mitt Romney and other Republicans over their pronounced indifference to the issue.

Nonetheless, House Republicans have refined this practice into an art and have passed nearly two dozen of these bills. The latest example was Thursday’s vote to repeal the tax on companies that sell more than $5 million in medical devices, a component of the health care reform law. Another provision in the bill would let people use health savings accounts to pay for over-the-counter drugs, changing an aspect of the health care law in a way that would primarily benefit higher-income taxpayers.

Both provisions would cut the amount of revenue the government will need to subsidize health insurance for low-income people, though Republicans (and 37 Democrats) voted to make up for the loss with disincentives for people to accept health care subsidies. The device industry will recoup the tax with new business from currently uninsured people. The bill is designed to please conservative voters, and will not be taken up by the Senate.

Another ridiculous bill coming up would prohibit the adoption of any major new government regulation until the unemployment rate falls to 6 percent or less.

Yet the House, so eager to take these kinds of votes, won’t move the stalled transportation bill, holding up billions of dollars — and millions of jobs — on road and transit projects, apparently out of fear it might help the economy and thus the political fortunes of Democrats. Because of internal Republican divisions, the House could pass only a 90-day bill extending existing highway programs. But when the Senate overwhelmingly approved a two-year bill (on a 74-to-22 vote), House leaders held it up in conference committee, while insisting on attaching unrelated provisions, like approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline and restricting any regulations on toxic coal ash from power plants.

So far, the House Republicans have done little but show that they have no real interest in governing.