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Republicans Chanted Goodbye After Democrats' 1993 Vote for Clinton Tax Increase

May 7, 2017

It only takes about 31 seconds of this week's health care coverage to show why people hate what passes for mainstream media reporting. After Democrats sang "goodbye" to 217 Republicans who voted to take health insurance away from 24 million Americans and strip essential protections from millions more, conventional wisdom regurgitators like Katie Couric and CNN's Chris Cillizza were shocked--SHOCKED--by the performance. While Couric asked "was it appropriate for Dems to chant 'nah nah' on the House floor," Cillizza headed to the fainting couch with a piece titled, "31 seconds of the healthcare vote that shows why people hate politics."
Of course, long before Cillizza proclaimed, "And the DC political class wonders why people hate them," Republicans were shattering all norms of decorum on Capitol Hill. Before South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson shouted "you lie" at President Obama and GOP legislators displayed "Kill the Bill" signs outside the second floor of the Capitol Hill during the Obamacare battle, House Republicans chanted "Goodbye, Marjorie" to the woman who cast the deciding vote to pass the 1993 Clinton tax cut plan. As you might recall, Republicans predicted economic and political disaster for that budget. Instead, it ushered in an era of 22 million new jobs and the longest economic expansion since World War II.
Twenty-four years before the New York Times reported "Democrats Taunt Republicans with 'Hey, Hey, Goodbye' During Health Vote," the nation's paper of record described "cheers and jeers" for Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky's tie-breaking vote for President Clinton's upper-income tax hikes. Before she became famous as Chelsea Clinton's mother-in-law, Ms. Margolies-Mezvinsky put her party before political pragmatism in her traditionally Republican district:

The first-term Congresswoman had come out against the plan, having won election last November in her Main Line district, a group of mythically prosperous Philadelphia suburbs where winning candidates usually wear striped ties, by only 1,373 votes. A former television newscaster in Washington, she was one of the surprises of 1992, and thousands of her constituents will now be paying higher taxes next year as she seeks re-election...
At the last moment the whips gave her the word that she was needed, and she walked down the aisle. One Democrat after another hugged her, patted her on the back and touched her as if she were Joan of Arc. As she finally voted aye, her Democratic colleagues cheered as the Republicans jeered, "Goodbye Marjorie."

As turned out, the Republicans were right about Marjorie's fate. She lost in the 1994 midterms, along with 53 other House Democrats. But on the fates of Bill Clinton and the U.S. economy, the GOP had it all wrong. As Republicans continue their campaign to gut the American health care system, that history is worth revisiting.
If Barack Obama's experience with record-setting Republican obstructionism was shocking, Bill Clinton's was unprecedented at the time. . When Clinton's 1993 economic program scraped by without capturing the support of even one GOP lawmaker, the New York Times remarked:

Historians believe that no other important legislation, at least since World War II, has been enacted without at least one vote in either house from each major party.

Inheriting massive budget deficits and stubborn unemployment from Bush the Elder, Clinton's $496 billion program was nonetheless opposed by every single member of the GOP, as well as defectors from his own party. As the Times recounted, it took a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Al Gore to earn victory:

An identical version of the $496 billion deficit-cutting measure was approved Thursday night by the House, 218 to 216. The Senate was divided 50 to 50 before Mr. Gore voted. Since tie votes in the House mean defeat, the bill would have failed if even one representative or one senator who voted with the President had switched sides.

Throughout 1993, President Clinton faced venomous - if completely baseless - charges from his Republican opponents. Newt Gingrich announced that February, "I believe that that will in fact kill the current recovery and put us back in a recession," while also warning the day before the budget vote, "This is the Democrat machine's recession, and each one of them will be held personally accountable." Bob Dole, Clinton's future reelection opponent, complained, "People out there in the real world just don't understand how record-setting tax increases and a taxpayer-financed spending spree by Congress will solve the deficit or put Americans back to work." Future Governor John Kasich (R-OH) told Clinton and the Democrats, "your economic program is a job killer" and predicted, "This plan will not work. If it was to work, then I'd have to become a Democrat." Meanwhile, future Tea Party sugar daddy Dick Armey read his tea leaves:

"Clearly this is a job killer in the short run. The revenues forecast for this budget will not materialize; the costs of this budget will be greater than what is forecast. The deficit will be worse, and it is not a good omen for the American economy."

In August 1993, Republicans deployed their biggest gun - Ronald Reagan - to direct fire at President Clinton. The Gipper, the same man who tripled the U.S. national debt in eight years, blasted away from the op-ed pages of the New York Times:

"The President's 'wonder plan' could be cited for deceptive advertising by the Food and Drug Administration. Job-killing taxes come right away, and hazy spending cuts are on the distant horizon. The five-year plan will likely impede economic growth and not come near its claim of $500 billion in deficit reduction."

Most dramatic of all was Texas Senator Phil Gramm. The same man who led the 1990's crusade to gut regulation of Wall Street and the IRS and later called America a "nation of whiners," boldly - and wrongly - predicted:

"I believe hundreds of thousands of people are going to lose their jobs...I believe Bill Clinton will be one of those people."

As it turned out, not so much. As I summed it up in 2012:

The Republican naysayers were, of course, utterly wrong on every count. Bill Clinton kept his job and presided over a rapidly growing economy, expanding incomes, new stock market highs and a balanced budget. Clinton, who helped author one of the best eight-year economic performances of the modern presidents, bequeathed a CBO-estimated $5.6 trillion surplus to his successor, the man with the worst economic record. Alas, with his tax cut windfall for the wealthy, George W. Bush squandered the Clinton surpluses. For the record-high income inequality and historically low tax burden they helped produce, Bush and Congressional Republicans yielded only a million new jobs--and red ink as far as the eye could see.

Fast forward to May 4, 2017. The Democratic chorus of "nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah, hey hey, goodbye" may yet prove to be a case of premature celebration. Republicans may yet keep their hold on their House majority. But if President Trump and his GOP allies in Congress succeed in replacing Obamacare with the so-called "American Health Care Act," their victory will be among the greatest defeats ever for Americans' health and financial security. The House GOP vote for a bill most hadn't read, few could explain and that was unscored by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office deserves to be jeered. Any "reporter" pretending that wasn't the story of this week's Trumpcare vote deserves to be jeered, too.
And the DC political media wonder why the people hate them.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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