There was an agonizing irony to the frenzy on Capitol Hill yesterday as
the late Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) lay in state in the Capitol
Rotunda and GOP leaders scurried about trying unsuccessfully to scrounge
up the votes to pass a bill to avoid the fiscal cliff. Inouye, a pillar
of patience and practicality, represents a time gone by — when Congress
wouldn't think of coming so close to an avoidable economic disaster
because members feared losing their jobs in primary challenges. Sure,
some Republicans did not, and refused to budge on their tax-lowering
principles to vote for a tax increase for those making more than $1
million per year simply because they were opposed, but many members
conceded their vote could not pass muster in safe GOP districts with the
purists in the grass roots who would surely come after them.
What should happen now is what Boehner described Thursday night: The Senate should join the debate immediately and provide the next step forward. It's high time the upper chamber got its hands dirty. Meanwhile, Boehner's hands are tied until the White House or the Senate makes a move.
Happy holidays! Ask A.B. will return in early January as the new Congress is sworn in. LET THERE BE A DEAL BY THEN! I look forward to your questions and comments in 2013 and thank you for a great 2012! Keep them coming to firstname.lastname@example.org.