When did we decide it would be a good idea for our government to be in the birth control business? The uproar over contraceptives, religion, and the health care law distracted Congress from the reality of revisiting the payroll tax cut, battling over the budget, dealing with long-term unemployment, and plotting how best to stall any semblance of progress until after the 2012 election.
Firings, contraception, immigration, gay marriage, and one-upping conservative values. Had enough? GOP candidates are sounding a little less attractive to Republican voters every time they open their mouths, but the alternative is grimmer than we dare to consider. By the time this winds up in Tampa and the gloves come off for the real battle against the Democratic machine will anyone still be listening?
Yesterday morning Republicans were resolute. Democrats were incensed. The president was toeing the line between compromise and censure. Everyone involved was giving signals that the year-end payroll tax cut package was doomed until after Washington’s Christmas vacation (see: Congress Pounds a Holly Stake Through Middle Class Hearts). By the end of the day, Republicans were talking capitulation, backing down from a stance from which there could be no backing down.
During the now-forgotten controversy over extending the Bush tax rates, harsh invective ruled the day. The escalating war of words linked the wealthy to financial firms blamed for precipitating the recession, as if anyone making over $250,000 annually was by necessity employed on Wall Street.
President Obama played a pivotal role in keeping the dialogue going, reminding Americans how the wealthy benefited at their expense during the Bush years:
And keep in mind wealthy Americans are just about the only folks who saw their incomes rise when Republicans were in charge.
Despite ongoing economic blight and the failure to reduce record unemployment, health care reform remains the most contentious issue of Barack Obama’s presidency. The bill embodies everything conservatives despise about big government, and resulted in angry demands for repeal while drafts were still being committed to paper. Republicans promised that one of their first priorities, should they retake control of Congress, would be to wipe this hated piece of legislation off the books forever.