Two hundred and ten Democratic Congressmen voted to adjourn the House of Representatives today without addressing the biggest issue of the session: how much of the Bush Tax Cuts to extend. Thirty-nine Democrats joined one hundred and seventy Republicans voting against adjournment.
Clearly, Democratic leadership doesn't want to force its many vulnerable members to take a tough vote on taxes before standing for re-election. That's understandable, but they're doing a great deal of damage to the economy simply by leaving this momentous uncertainty hanging in the air for another month.
The tax increase takes effect January 1st; anyone hiring a new employee right now has to take into account that taxes may, or may not, rise sharply in just a few months. The government often daydreams about having positive ways to affect the economy: here it is, folks! Pass sensible tax legislation, well in advance, instead of playing head games with America's job creators.
However, hightailing it from Washington for political expediency might not actually help Democrats. They've helped guarantee that the lousy economy will continue and that fewer employers will make new hires. Voters will (rightly or wrongly) lay the persistent 10% unemployment rate on Democrats' doorsteps, and vote the bums out if things don't improve sharply in the next month. So Democrats may have outsmarted themselves and abandoned what little sense of adult responsibility they had, all in one fell swoop.
Taxes aren't the only thing left undone by this Congress: there's no federal budget with a new fiscal year starting on Friday. This is a fundamental failure by Congress to do its job. And don't blame the GOP: a bare majority is all that Pelosi needs to pass whatever Democrats want in the lower house. There's plenty of blame to go on the GOP side when they are in power.