Thursday, March 25, 2004

'All or nothing' Republicans get...

...nothing, and stick American business with the bill.

Awhile back the Republicans went a little overboard in service to their corporate sponsors and passed some tax breaks related to international trade that got hauled up befor the WTO, resulting in trade sanctions that could run up to $4 billion a year.

Naturally, the Republicans want to fix their mistake, and in this case many, maybe most, Democrats agree. Why, then, is it so hard to get the job done?

Well, in the course of drafting the needed corrections (which replace the offending tax breaks with a new set that's expected to withstand WTO scrutiny), Iowa Senator Tom Harkin got unanimous consent to introduce an amendment designed to prevent the Bush administration from pursuing it's rollback of overtime pay for a variety of job classifications. When it came time to vote, though, the Republicans tried to block the amendment by invoking cloture.

When their attempt to kill the Harkin amendment through parlimentary manipulation faild, Senate Republican leader Bill Frist pulled the bill altogether, rather than allow a vote on the overtime issue. I can't imagine who he thinks he's helping with this legislative tantrum. Worker's overtime rights are still in jeopardy, American industry still faces punitive trade sanctions, and Bill Frist takes his ball and goes home.

There was no demand that the overtime amendment pass before a vote on the trade taxes. All the Democratic caucus was the vote that was promised by unanimous consent. Frist and his minions claim the Democrats are holding the bill hostage to political considerations, but who's kidding who here? The tax bill will pass in almost any form, with a bi-partisan coalition. The overtime bill may squeak through the Republican majority, but lots of R's will be voting against it at the bidding of their friends in the administration and corporate management, and it's a vote they don't want to run on in November.

47 Democrats hung tough on the side of American workers, though, and the Republicans left a $4 billion dollar tab on the table for American industry to pick up.

We need a new Senate majority, and this kind of incompetent intransigence by the Republican leadership can only help.

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