Tuesday, September 30, 2008

House Resolution 3997

The U.S. House of Representatives defeated H.R.3997 on Monday, 29 Sept. 2008 by a vote of 205-228 under Roll Call 674. The (claimed-to-be "bipartisan") resolution would have pumped $700 billion of citizen's money to those same bankers and financiers who caused the ongoing credit crunch.

Looking into the actual text of the bill, what did I find? The cagey politicians threw a basket of bric-a-brac around the guts of their proposal. Citizens might be surprised to read the first lines: "BILL TITLE: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide earnings assistance and tax relief to members of the uniformed services, volunteer firefighters, and Peace Corps volunteers, and for other purposes" What the hell is this?

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, as far as I can see, was thrown together with a bunch of other gunk. While seeking to spend a huge amount of taxpayer money to bailout the banks, officially they voted on the "Defenders of Freedom Tax Relief Act of 2007." Couldn't such a momentous effort have been better managed? This is a very shady Congress and not forthright.

From the Congressional Record Daily Digest for 29th September:
"Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008: The House failed to agree to the Senate amendment to the House amendment to the Senate amendment with an amendment made in order by the rule and printed in H. Rept. 110–903, to H.R. 3997, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide earnings assistance and tax relief to members of the uniformed services, volunteer firefighters, and Peace Corps volunteers, by a recorded vote of 205 ayes to 228 noes, Roll No. 674."
Pages H10334–35, H10337–H10411

Yes (no?), that is: "...failed to agree to the Senate amendment to the House amendment to the Senate amendment with an amendment made in order by the rule...to amend..." Of course a typical person would just love to throw these bums out.

Reading the Congressional Record (which ain't easy) and as far as I can tell: Rep. Gohmert tried to adjourn the House at about 9:10 AM, it went to a vote and was defeated 8-394 (three Reps. after voting for holiday changed their votes to no; see page H10336). This was followed by reading H.R.3997 which talked of Peace Corps benefits, leaky underground storage tanks (SEC. 6430), parity in application of certain limits to mental health benefits, and by the way, a $700 billion subsidy to financiers (about $2000 per citizen). Nearly five hours of discussions followed, with highlights including Rep. Broun (R-Georgia): "this is a huge cow patty with a piece of marshmallow stuck in the middle of it, and I'm not going to eat that cow patty." After using all time for debate, an effort was made to declare the motion passed ("the Speaker pro tempore announced that the ayes appeared to have it...). But when a proper vote was demanded, the count was 205-228 and the bill was defeated.

Since the start of his administration nearly eight years ago, President Bush and his VP Cheney have sought to hamstring Congress and other checks on their executive authority, consistently treating all with contempt. The Treasury Secretary echoed this attitude with his original demands for huge rescue funding, which he himself would administer without oversight. Though there were great efforts (notably by Rep. Barney Frank) toward adjusting the demands of the President and his financiers, and toward increased transparency, the bill still failed. Now the real fireworks begin...

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