GOP hostage taking in Washington

By Curtis Ellis

Voters feel betrayed by the GOP. Washington Republicans say one thing when running for office then do the opposite after they’re elected. This helps fuel the Trump/Cruz voter rebellion against the establishment.

In 2010 the tea party flipped the House on the premise and promise that Republican control would stop Obama’s agenda dead in its tracks. That didn’t exactly happen. Then in 2014, Sen. Mitch McConnell told voters, in effect, “make me majority leader, and I will stop Obama, cross my heart, hope to die.” But after the election, McConnell (with the help of Paul Ryan) gave Obama extraordinary fast track negotiating authority when the president’s own party rejected the universally loathed Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obamatrade.

The betrayals didn’t end there. Staged fights over spending, Obamacare, executive amnesty and the dangerous Iran nuclear deal all ended with congressional capitulation, an outcome as predictable as a professional wrestling match.

One might think the current voter uprising would warn Washington Republicans to at least give the appearance of standing up to Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

Think again. Instead of standing up against cronies and the politicians who love them, GOP lawmakers are serving the bipartisan crowd of corporatists gorging at the taxpayer trough.

The preferred method of feeding involves tax breaks attached to “must-pass” legislation. We saw this writ large with the omnibus spending bill. But lawmakers can stuff special favors for donors into any number of “minibus” bills.

Legislation funding the Federal Aviation Administration is the latest example.

Operatives in the Washington backroom labyrinth have hijacked air traffic and are holding it hostage for favored tax breaks.

Even more outrageous, the tax breaks have nothing to do with the aviation industry. The hostage takers want special treatment for “green energy.”

Supporters have said renewable energy subsidies would only be needed for a few years to get this “infant industry” off the ground. But it’s turned into a perennial infant living in the basement of the parents, aka taxpayers, for decades. Billions have been spent on white elephants that fail to produce more energy than they consume. When the industry’s long promised jobs have materialized, they’re in China or Brazil.

We’d expect Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer to hold air passengers as hostages to get a payoff, but GOP stalwarts like Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and Dean Heller of Nevada are also on board. Commerce Committee Chairman Thune told Politico, “There will probably be some folks on our side who don’t want to add these [green energy tax breaks], but I think many of our members probably will.” He failed to mention he is one of those members – he’s been a longtime ally of the wind energy industry. As for Heller, he’s in hock to Reid over high-speed rail to Vegas, another boondoogle.

The point is this: If green energy subsidies are worthwhile, lawmakers should have the courage to debate them openly, not stuff them into the overhead carry-on bin of must-pass FAA legislation.

Voters gave the Republicans control of Congress because they were sick of backroom deals. Tricks like the FAA minibus make you wonder if it really makes any difference who’s in charge.

The GOP should work to clean up Washington, D.C., if it wants to hold the Senate in this restive election year.

John Thune and Dean Heller, are you listening?

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