For and foremost, I want to wish everyone a very Happy New Year. Great to have made it to 2013!!
One thing is clear today… Washington is finally doing some WORK. After a painful campaign year in 2012, and a shameful Lame Duck session, the United States Congress has now gone over the Fiscal Cliff. As of today, the Bush Tax Cuts have expired FOREVER, and we are now under the largest tax rate the nation has had in over 10 years. It’s done folks, the clock has run out.
Of course this isn’t what anyone wanted… Neither Democrats or Republicans wanted tax rates this high (at least not yet), or cuts this steep to defense and social services. Just like our hangovers from last nightMs New Years’ Eve, we now have to face the consequences of our Congressional actions. Unemployment benefits have now been cut off for nearly 2 million Americans, and it’s unacceptable to let them starve. In other words, now we need some help.
In for the rescue come Vice President Joe Biden. Apparently, some jobs are too big for even the President to negotiate. And when it comes to Congress m, those jobs now fall to Joe Biden.
What we sometimes forget about our distinguished VP? Before 2009, he was a in the United States Senate for 36 years. Had he not become VP, he would actually be the most senior Democrat in the Senate. That seniority is proving to play a critical role to the future of our nation. Knowing the gravity of the situation, Minority leader Mitch McConnell actually called on Biden to come in and close the deal for the Senate. As a result, Senators reached a compromise and were able to pass a the fiscal cliff deal on a shocking 89-8 vote. If you’ve followed Congress over the last few years, you’ll know that bi-partisanship of this magnitude doesn’t happen often.
Of course Joe Biden has been a critical partner to President Obama at almost every turn. He helped restore the faith of the Progressive Caucus in a shrewd move to clarify the White House position on same sex marriage. Sure President Obama came out in support of marriage equality last May, but only after Biden endorsed it a few days prior on a Sunday talk show. This put the President against a wall, and thankfully he chose to side with the arc of history. Since that pivotal moment, the cause for marriage equality has entered a new realm of victory with endorsements by Civil Rights organizations, and wins in the mere state-wide referenda. Sure history will talk about Obama’s leadership on the issue, but let’s not forget who actually toppled the first domino.
Now let’s not kid ourselves… This isn’t a great bill, and the struggles are far from over. The House has yet to vote on the legislation. But now, with weight of Republican support from the Senate the House will knows that rejecting this bill would be electoral suicide. So the prospects look good at the moment. (Look for updates as this is developing rapidly.)
But in either case, the Vice President has proven his worth today. After forcing the President’s hand on issues like same-sex marriage, clobbering Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan in debates, and being a tireless champion for the working class, it’s time for us all to raise a glass to Mr. Biden.
Hail to the Veep.