These days, it seems that, if you want something done, you have to take your message to the Internet. Social networking sites like Facebook seem to be home to many popular movements, such as the move to get Betty White to host “Saturday Night Live” for the first time in her illustrious career. It is no secret that much of President Barack Obama’s success on Election Day was due to his campaign’s strategic use of the Internet to motivate young voters. And, now, with the ongoing debate over passage of various pieces of legislation involving unemployment benefits extensions, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) has taken to Facebook and asked a question that, as posed, seems to be about deficit spending but, if taken to its logical conclusion, is actually asking for a popular mandate to keep voting “no” on the aforementioned unemployment extension bills.
On his Facebook page, Senator Cornyn asks, “If it involved deficit spending, what, if any, bills you would ask our member of Congress vote for?”
Senator John Cornyn has voted “no” on every cloture vote regarding H.R.4213, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010. He has stood firm with his Republican Party brethren in voting a lockstep “no” throughout June, a solid phalanx of negativity until broken by the two Republican Maine senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, on the fourth cloture vote in June.
The Republican position has been and continues to be that they want a halt to deficit spending, something that Republicans (including Senator Cornyn) and their short-term memory neglects to recall that it was a Republican-led Congress that more than doubled deficit spending under the Bush administration. And, even when the Democrats got H.R.4213 down to a bill that would increase the national deficit to less than 1 percent over the next 10 years, John Cornyn and his fellow Republicans stood strong — except for the Maine senators — and helped defeat passage of a bill that would extend $16 billion to beleaguered Medicaid programs in 30 struggling states and provide unemployment benefits extensions to millions of Americans currently jobless.
Many want to point fingers at Ben Nelson (D-NB), the sole Democrat who voted against cloture in the last motion vote, or Harry Reid, who denied an attempt at compromise from Ohio Senator Geoge Voinovich, who proposed paying for at least half of the $33.5 billion unemployment benefits extension provision with unused stimulus monies. Those pointing fingers are rigid with merit, to some extent, but there is also something to be said about Republicans like John Cornyn, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who have voted in virtual lockstep since attempts to pass the “Tax and Benefits” act began.
To say that their efforts at attempting to control deficit budget spending are hypocritical is an understatement of such enormous magnitude, only politicians could ever believe they could somehow get away with it.
But, John Cornyn asks on his Facebook page if there are any bills that those reading his page would want voted for, even if it increased the national deficit. Of course, like the preacher psalm-singing to the choir, Senator Cornyn understands that most of those accessing his Facebook page will agree that deficit spending needs to be controlled. But, Senator Cornyn neglects to mention unemployment benefits extensions and that deficit spending is the default argument used by the Senator and his Republican colleagues.
Although he leaves the question open-ended, nowhere will one find an indication that Senator Cornyn has voted “no” on legislation that requires no “Pay/Go” adherence (the rules that bind legislation to pay for or offset expenditures that would increase the national deficit by paying for the provision or generating revenue to replace the expenditures). And nowhere will one see that there has never been one instance until the present legislation where unemployment benefits extensions, which are considered emergency spending, have been burdened with the demand of “Pay/Go”.
This is not to say that Senator John Cornyn should be singled out among his lockstep brethren, no more than Senator Ben Nelson or Senator Harry Reid, but it is Senator John Cornyn’s intent through his question of Facebook to gain a public mandate, a populist support base, for his and his Party’s stance on deficit spending. But the hypocrisy endemic to the stance is such that only a politician could actually believe they could get away with it.
The cold calculations that put the national deficit above his constituents — Texas had a June unemployment rate of 8.3 percent (over 1 million unemployed individuals) — in an economy that shows little signs of a quick turnaround does nothing to mitigate the fact that the stonewalling seems to be mere political posturing in the hopes of denying the Democrats even a perceived marginal victory.
But since Senator John Cornyn has opened the doors of dialogue, his constituents should let him know how they feel. Those unemployed that have had their benefits cut off because of the Republican stonewalling that has contributed to forcing four cloture votes — all of which have failed — should have their voices heard.
The good Senator has invited those who would go to his Facebook page to tell him what bills, if any, that the people of his state (and, by extension, the United States) would like for him to vote for, even if it increases the national deficit. Do so.
Contact Senator John Cornyn via his Facebook page.
“John Cornyn Facebook,” Facebook.com