Mayer: Republican game plan: Break everything and blame Democrats
Susan Mayer, Columnist
Portsmouth Herald, July 15, 2022
We expect those we elect to Congress to craft legislative solutions to problems—easing hardships, improving Americans’ lives, and, as the Constitution says, “promoting the general welfare.” However, although America is facing serious problems, congressional Republicans have done nothing but exacerbate the problems and exploit the issues for political gain. Why?
Americans are struggling with difficult issues, ranging from an ongoing global pandemic that’s killed more than a million Americans and Russia’s vicious war on Ukraine, both of which have disrupted the economy and global supply chains, to gun violence (and the horror of assaults on children at school), inflation, high energy prices, extortionate drug prices, and a baby formula shortage.
Citizens are desperately looking to Congress for action, but due to the hard right swing in the Republican Party, Republican politicians’ only action is to refuse to work with Democrats to fix our problems. By blaming problems on President Biden or Democrats, they get rewarded with huge contributions from donors and praise from Fox News and other far right media. The praise translates into higher poll numbers, reinforcing their belief that breaking everything and blaming Democrats is a winning strategy.
On high energy prices, which help drive inflation, Republicans and their Fox News messengers blame the President. It’s dishonest. They know that no president controls energy pricing. Prices are set on global markets disrupted by the pandemic and Putin’s war. Also, Big Oil is price gouging, making record profits while ripping off taxpayers, who are also forced to pay them subsidies. (The subsidies are a legislative gift from Republicans to Big Oil.) To fix that, House Democrats passed the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act. This bill would rein in profiteering by making selling oil at exploitative prices illegal during an energy emergency and penalizing profiteering oil companies that do it. ZERO Republicans voted for it. Why? Maybe they’d rather Americans pay more than lose their political contributions from the industry?
Higher food costs are another component of inflation. To fix that, House Democrats passed the Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act, a comprehensive bill to strengthen US food and fuel supply chains, increase competition in the meat and poultry industries, improve support to farmers, and lower prices to consumers. Though praised by the National Farmers Union and the Renewable Fuels Association, House Republicans just said no. Why?
Drug prices are way too high in our country. Insulin is a life-saving drug for the thousands of people in New Hampshire with diabetes who rely on insulin. On average, diabetics have medical costs 2.3 times higher than others. Insulin costs have skyrocketed 54% since 2014, and diabetics pay an average $100 a unit for what in Canada costs $12, leading to dangerous, even deadly insulin rationing. To fix that problem, Democrats passed the Affordable Insulin Now Act, a bill to cap insulin costs at $35 per month. House Republicans just said no. Why?
Homegrown violent domestic terrorism and mass shootings have skyrocketed. The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act aims to protect us from neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other extremists by better equipping the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the FBI to identify and thwart domestic terror threats, and by providing lawmakers with needed information to guide policy. House Republicans unanimously said no. Why?
With only four companies producing baby formula, when the FDA shut down Abbott Nutrition’s plant because of bacterial contamination, a severe baby formula shortage ensued. The Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act would provide emergency funding to fix the shortage of infant formula. House Republicans heartlessly just said no. Why? Fortunately, President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to boost formula production and launched Operation Fly Formula to bring families infant formula from overseas.
All these bills, passed by House Democrats, were blocked by Senate Republicans. Why won’t Republicans work with Democrats to help Americans through these tough times? Why is it more important to bow to their party’s extremists and to score points than to fix our country’s problems? And the biggest question prompted by their votes against solutions is: how can they be trusted to fix Congress when they constantly, loudly, and proudly vote against the citizens they promised to serve?
Susan Mayer of Lee was a senior legislative staff member for Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter for eight years.