Alliance and Compliance
Rep. Fitzpatrick (R-8) voted for the “cliff compromise”, eventually. Citizens got no clue ahead of time from Mr. Fitzpatrick. Our neighboring Congressman, Charlie Dent (R-15), stated early that he intended to support compromise. According to him it was the right thing to do, for his district and for the country. “It will not be perfect, not ideal. It will require participation from both parties,” he said. “These are basic facts. We are going to have to put shoulder to wheel and deal with these issues.” With that news, those that were afraid for our immediate economic future could relax a little. Mr. Fitzpatrick, however, let us dangle in the wind while he “thought about what would be best for all Americans”. Translation: Mustn’t raise taxes on the rich alone. Everybody should share the burden.
On the day that the compromise package vote was being debated, we finally heard from Mr. Fitzpatrick on CSpan. But he had nothing to say about the specifics of the fiscal compromise. He used his air time to announce a new bill countermanding President Obama’s Executive Order allowing a very small salary increase (.5%) for legislators, judges, and other high level government employees. His co-sponsor was Congressman Issa of California. Fine. But during a crisis that threatened to throw us into another recession he asks the House to debate and vote on a drop-in-the-bucket bill because it will make a few Congressmen look prudent? It had to be right there, right then?
The alliance with Congressman Issa may be an important clue to Mr. Fitzpatrick’s future legislative moves. Issa is blatantly rich. He made millions in real estate deals, construction, and consulting, a fair percentage of it rake-offs from government programs. Issa is expediently conservative. He has no problem taking “hand-outs” that benefit his bottom line. And Issa is a flagrant publicity seeker. To repeat: Issa is blatantly wealthy, expediently conservative, and a flagrant publicity hound. Wow.
This is the legislative collegiality that Congressman Fitzpatrick appreciates? Hand in hand they sponsored a largely symbolic bill. Mr. Fitzpatrick pointed out that it was patriotic for congressmen not to take a raise during tough times. Actually, we agree. They already make huge salaries, have dandy staff support (the lowly staff did not participate in the raise, however) and can use tax supported franking privileges to tell us all the good they are doing for us. When they are doing anything at all.
At about the same time, the House voted for the 34th time to repeal Obamacare! Rep. Fitzpatrick and every single other Republican voted to repeal. Yet the House deferred immediate action on most of the Sandy recovery request, claiming that they were too busy to give the bill its needed “close reading”. The House saw no “emergency”. Governor Christie (R-New Jersey) chose to disagree with the House priorities and publicly called the Republican leadership to task in no uncertain terms. Collaboration with Governor Christie would have generated significant non-partisan appreciation across several states. But Mr. Fitzpatrick followed the Leader and chose otherwise.
Remember all this the next time the House threatens to shut the government down because they need more time to act “carefully” and don’t want to “kick the can down the road”. The house seems to have plenty of time for nonsense that meets certain partisan requirements.
Readers should carefully note the lack of attention to the fiscal cliff compromise, the timing of the small potatoes Issa-Fitzpatrick bill, the silly vote to repeal Obamacare, and the deferred attention to the needs of New York and New Jersey. File this information with the claim that Rep. Fitzpatrick is one of the most independent members of the House. Compliant yes. Independent? Not really.
Ann Melby Shenkle
January 7, 2013