In a gotcha move the House filled the Appropriations bill designed to avert yet another government shutdown with noxious provisions, passed it and left town for the year. This take-it-or-leave-it bill which, if not passed, would have shut down the U.S. government on the Sunday included poison pills like:
1. Repeals Dodd-Frank ban on Wall St banks using taxpayer insured deposits to gamble on derivatives. This was what brought down the economy and led to the huge bank bailout in 2008. The Dodd-Frank provision was a weaker version of Glass Steagall which prohibited banks getting FDIC coverage for their customer deposits from also acting as investment banks. Glass Steagall was put into effect after the Great Depression and was repealed under Clinton.
2. Raises the amount a wealthy couple could donate to political parties to over a million dollars and weakens the McCain-Feingold election reform.
3. Allows corporations to cut retiree pensions after they’ve retired. (e.g. legalized breach of contract.)
4. Cuts EPA’s budget by $60 million.
5. Defunds the IRS $345.6 million – a somewhat strange move since the IRS brings in most of the money the government uses.
6. Bans the IRS from targeting organizations seeking tax-exempt status based on their ideological beliefs. This would make it more difficult to remove tax-exempt status from churches and astroturf groups who lobby and do fundraisers for political candidates such as the recent ITN election event featuring Duke Aiona and Elwin Ahu.
7. Prohibits D.C. from legalizing marijuana.
Nancy Pelosi attacked the bill saying, “This is ransom, this is blackmail. We don’t get a bill unless Wall Street gets its taxpayer-funded coverage.”
But not to worry. The GOP provided for $521 billion in military spending.
The House passed the appropriations bill on Thursday, four days prior to a government shutdown and promptly left town. In essence, they thumbed their noses at the Senate and saying, “Take it or leave it – government shut down is on you if you don’t pass these poison pills.”
Hawaii’s represenatatives Hanabusa and Gabbard voted no. Mazie Hirono voted no and Brian Schatz voted yes. Senators were put in an avoid-avoid dilemma. A yes vote would lead to an eventual economic crash and bailout. A no vote would lead to an immediate government shutdown and the prospect of an even worse appropriations bill once the GOP takes over both the senate and house. Definitely a no-win proposition for our senators.