“Don’t be a Grinch,” President Obama wants you to tell Congress, where there’s major stalling on everything from political appointees to payroll tax cuts.
In the last two weeks alone, Congress:
- Rejected the nomination of Richard Cordray to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the anti-fraud agency that’s been in existence since July without a leader (Elizabeth Warren was an earlier nominee)
- Shot down a federal appeals court nominee for being too left leaning and “petty politics,” as noted in WSJ’s Law Blog
- Waved goodbye to the head of Medicare,Dr. Donald Berwick, a much respected former doctor and Harvard researcher turned businessman whose temporary appointment expired without approval
- Disagreed over plans for extending payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits, set to expire at the end of the year
The payroll tax cuts are the hot point
Democrats want another year of 160 million Americans paying lower social security taxes, but want to offset that by adding a tax to Americans who make more than $1 million a year.
Republicans oppose higher taxes on the wealthy but will support the extensions in exchange for building a controversial oil pipeline through the Midwest, which they say will create jobs (more on this another week!).
Stalling is typical when the party in control of Congress differs from the President’s
Problem is, the “do nothing” approach to government seems like a cop out, and the consequences are real: There are close to 100 federal judge vacancies, about one-third of which have been declared emergencies with backlogs of at least 500-700 cases waiting to be heard.
Obama could push judicial and other appointments through temporarily while Congress recesses, but he wants legislators to work through the holidays if they don’t pass the payroll tax cut extensions. Republicans say they may not break anyway to prevent the recess appointments. Yikes, my head is spinning over that one!
It may be coldest of all in Washington, but ultimately, we all feel the chill. I’m going to get another mocha...