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House Republicans Out of Touch
An Essay by NPR's Daniel Schorr

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Daniel Schorr
Daniel Schorr

Oct. 22, 2001 -- The House of Representatives, often called the People's House, seems curiously out of touch with the people. A post-Sept. 11 surge of reliance on the national government is reflected in a Brookings Institution study showing 80 percent of Americans trusting the federal government.

Responding to that spirt, the Senate voted 100-to-0 to create a federal airport screening service to replace the failed system of private contractors. The idea was to try to restore confidence in flying in time for the Thanksgiving travel rush.

But the House Republican leadership has expressed staunch opposition to creating a new force of civil servants that might form unions -- and might vote Democratic. Majority Whip Tom DeLay has called on lobbyists for the airlines and the private security industry to support a Republican bill that would give the president the option of retaining commercial screening under federal standards.

"The Congressional Budget Office estimates that of the $100 billion in accelerated tax cuts, just $2.3 billion would go for extending cash and health benefits for unemployed workers. All this may appeal to the Republican conservative base. It does not seem to respond to the spirit of the times."

Daniel Schorr

The House Republican economics stimulus bill seems similarly responsive to an outdated orthodoxy. It would cut taxes $100 billion -- $25 billion more than the limit set by President Bush. Its benefits would flow predominantly to corporations and the wealthy. Conservative columnist Robert Novak calls the bill a hodgepodge that only a lobbyist could love.

The idea reflected in presidential speeches that Americans rich and poor are in the anti-terrorist war together is not reflected in the legislation making its way through the House. Unemployment benefits would be extended, but only in states where unemployment increased 30 percent or more. Three billion dollars in emergency grants to help the unemployed with health benefits could be diverted from a children's health program.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that of the $100 billion in accelerated tax cuts, just $2.3 billion would go for extending cash and health benefits for unemployed workers. All this may appeal to the Republican conservative base. It does not seem to respond to the spirit of the times.

Daniel Schorr is a senior news analyst for NPR.