Free Markets, Free People

House


Obama budget goes 0-414 in House

So let’s see, the two votes I’ve seen on the two Obama budgets that at least one of the houses of Congress has voted on in the past two year, neither has garnered a single vote from any legislator regardless of party.

Yesterday the House voted unanimously against President Obama’s current budget.  Last year the Senate went 0 for and 97 against his previous budget.

The House Democrats claim to have their own budget which closely mirrors the Obama budget deficits but differs in the details.

Oh good.

Meanwhile:

Senate Democrats have said they will not bring a budget to the floor this year, though Republicans in the chamber have talked about trying to at least force a vote on Mr. Obama’s plan there as well.

Thank you Harry Reid for your strong fiscal leadership.  What is it?  Well over 1,000 days and Senate Democrats have yet to produce a budget.

My guess is it’s Bush’s fault.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Kill the lame duck

You know, I got to thinking about the fact that many of those who will be deciding on legislation in the lame duck session of Congress were summarily kicked out of their seats by voters on Nov. 2nd.  While it may not be “the law”, I suggest that the voters who ousted these Representatives and Senators do not consider the person currently occupying the seat in the lame duck Congress to represent them.  After all, that’s why they voted in the majority to get rid of them.

So why are they then allowed to retain their seats until some future arbitrary date?  How can they, as soon to be ex-members voted out by their constituents, represent anyone?  Now I understand that some are retiring that that’s a bit different.  But leaving defeated members in their seats is an invitation to mischief.  For instance, Bob Bennett, a Republican Senator who was defeated in the primary is in the Senate today saying he’d probably vote for the DREAM act if it comes to the floor as a stand alone bill.  It is precisely that sort of prior voting that has Bennett seeking employment on K Street.

Orin Hatch, on the other hand, has a date with the voters in 2012 and, after previously supporting it, is running from the DREAM act as hard as he can.  He’s still accountable to them.  Bennett is accountable to no one.

As you can tell, I’m not a big fan of lame duck Congressional sessions.  And I think my reason is valid.  Nothing says seating a new Congress has to be put off until the following year (and if there is anything, it can be changed).  I think the decision of the voters should be final and quickly implemented. 

It would save us all this drama and nonsense going on now.  It would quickly allow the new majority to begin working on its priorities.  And it would get the dead-wood ex-Congresspersons to hell out of DC or at least off to a different part of it.

A lame duck Congress just has too much of an ability to do precisely what this one is attempting – pass party priorities that are not popular with the voters but for those who’ve been voted out of office, carry no penalty for supporting them.  It’s a can’t lose for ideologues such as Pelosi and Reid who can push their agenda and count on certain votes that perhaps weren’t necessarily votes they could count on before.

It makes no sense to me.  But then there are a lot of things about government that make no sense.

Kill the lame duck.

~McQ


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 07 Nov 10

In this podcast, Bruce and Dale discuss Tuesday’s midterm elections, and Friday’s unemployment report.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Final Election Predictions

Tomorrow’s the big day. So, I thought I’d join Bruce in tossing out my final pre-election prognostications (with error bars).

House: Republicans 247, Democrats 188 (+/-3)

Senate: Democrats 50, Republicans 50 (+/-1)

The Senate is the real imponderable here. With Patty Murray leading by only 0.3% in a watershed year, I’m going to go ahead and tentatively call this one for Dino Rossi. But this one could go either way, so worst case for the Senate, I think, is a 51/50 Democrat chamber. I also think it might be days before we know that final Senate number, too.


Observations: The Qando Podcast for 31 Oct 10

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss Tuesday’s midterm elections.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Observations: The Qando Podcast for 24 Oct 10

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the NAACP’s finding of racism in the Tea Party, and the Tea party in general.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Indies say Dem leadership too extreme

As we near the mid-term elections and people start paying attention (and early voting begins), we’re naturally seeing some tightening of the races.  However, one thing that hasn’t been tightening, per many polls, is independents going for the Democrats.

Anyone who has watched elections over the years knows full well that indies are the swing vote that, for the most part, determine the outcome of most elections.  Some refer to them as the mushy middle.  Others see them as voters truly independent of the 2 party system and not satisfied with either.  And during each election, they pick the side which best represents the direction they’d prefer to see the country go on the often mistaken assumption that the winner will head that way.

All that being said, keep in mind as you hear stories about tightening races that one thing that hasn’t been tightening is the Democratic hold on independent voters – at least not in this election cycle.  Why? 

Remember, this is a Congressional election and as much as the GOP might like it to be a referendum on Obama (and to some degree it will be) it’s mostly about the Congress we have.  Indies aren’t very enamored with it or its leadership (Nancy Pelosi is at 29% and Harry Reid is lower).  A new poll makes the point:

The Hill 2010 Midterm Election Poll found that 61 percent of likely independent voters in 10 battleground House districts — a critical swing demographic — think the leadership under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is more liberal than they are.

[…]

“That’s a very significant finding that tells you where independents are likely to go,” said Mark Penn, president of Penn Schoen Berland, which conducted the poll. “In terms of independents, Reid and Pelosi are viewed as out of step.”

And that feeling is likely to effect the independent vote, because it is strictly a numbers game that keeps the leadership in place.  Change the numbers, i.e. vote for the other party’s candidate, and if the change is large enough, you change the leadership.  Pelosi’s the most likely to lose her leadership job (and, rumor has it that even if Dems somehow hold on to the House, she may not be Speaker), but if Reid manages a win in Nevada, his power in the Senate may be neutralized by GOP gains in that chamber.

I got a bit of a chuckle with this quote:

“The inability to define Boehner and McConnell as out of touch with mainstream values was a strategic failure of the Democrats in the election,” said Simon Rosenberg, a veteran of the 1992 Clinton war room and president of NDN, a center-left think tank and advocacy group.

“The Democrats have done a bad job this election cycle defining the Republican Party as out of touch with American values,” he said.

It is hard to define the other side as “out of touch with American values” when the Democrats were proving every day and in every way how out of touch they were.  The GOP does indeed have it’s ‘out of touch’ problems, but they’re insignificant in comparison (at least at the moment) to the Democrats.

For instance:

Jim Kessler, vice president for policy at Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank, said many Democrats have played into the Republican strategy by attacking business.

“A lot of the Democrats are resorting to economic populism, and the polling shows that voters aren’t buying it,” he said. “ ‘Corporate America’ is a Washington term. Outside Washington, that’s business and the people who employ you.”

The anti-business, government union party – is that really how the Democrats want to be identified?  Is it any wonder independents are deserting them in droves?

~McQ


Let’s see how savvy the GOP really is …

POLITICO points out that the House Republicans are planning to announce their election agenda within the next two weeks.  That ought to be an interesting exercise.  This is supposedly a result of their “America Speaking Out” initiative, an online, grass-roots effort to build ideas from voters across the country. 

Two things that have leaked out sound great but most likely will have about the same impact as PAYGO:

One of the GOP proposals would require bills to have a specific citation of constitutional authority, on the heels of criticism that Democrats breached their constitutional limits in Congress with big-ticket bills like health care reform. If a member questioned whether the House had constitutional authority to pass a bill, that challenge would receive debate and a vote.

The second major initiative would encourage — though not require — members of Congress to read bills before they vote. According to a senior House GOP source, Republicans plan to push for a new rule that would require the House to publish the text of a bill online at least three days before the House votes on it, also giving the public an opportunity to review legislation.

The first is like closing the barn door after the horse has escaped.  That nag fled decades ago.  Obviously I’d like to see the Constitution followed as it should be, but I find it highly unlikely that a body of lawyers would have any trouble rationalizing almost anything they come up with as “Constitutional”.  I mean, look around you.

The second is, well, window dressing.  While it sounds great, I have little confidence that a 2,500 page bill posted on line for 3 days allows anyone enough time to read it much less understand and react to it.  I cannot think of any bill that Congress considers and debates that couldn’t wait a month for enactment (other than perhaps some funding for a natural disaster, etc).  In that time a real reading could be done, and the appropriate debate among “the people” could take place.  What effect even that would have on the House is unknown, however, it certainly would raise the visibility of the debate to much different levels than now and provide a little accountability so sorely missing. 

We’re still digging horse apples out of the ObamaCare law.  It was passed in haste precisely because of the crap it had hidden inside.  Yet there is no reason whatsoever that bill couldn’t have been available on line for 30 days prior to House action.  None.  Making that a requirement (and if there’s a schedule that the House feels it must keep on certain reoccurring items like the budget – adapt.  Move the House work schedule for that bill back a month) would certainly go a lot further to keeping House members honest and between the ditches than anything.

The rest of the agenda remains veiled in generalities:

Other bills and initiatives that are likely to be launched alongside the agenda include tax policy proposals, health reform proposals and jobs-related measures, though GOP aides involved declined to release any specifics ahead of the unveiling.

POLITICO says some of them will be designed to appeal to the Tea Party vote.  The first is obviously designed to do that – but is it really something which can and will be enforced?  And if it is, will it actually have an effect.  Again, you’re asking a body of lawyers to vote on their interpretation of what the Constitution says, and most are going to fall back on “precedent”, i.e. the fact that in the past what many say is an unconstitutional expansion of government – see Commerce clause – has been upheld by the Supreme Court.  How in the world would this change that?

Anyway, given my dissatisfaction with the first two, the GOP does indeed need to roll out reasons to vote “for” them, rather than just against Democrats.  And most importantly, if they’re able to successfully appeal to the voters to vote “for” them, they better damn well execute.

~McQ


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 18 Jul 10

In this podcast, Bruce and Dale discuss the dissatisfaction about President Obama’s competence, the oil spill, and the American stranded in Egypt.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Health care reform: So where are we on the vote?

David Dayden at FDL has it as 190 “yes”, 205 “no” (with leaners 202- 207).  That down one from the last whip count on the “yes” side and puts Obama and Pelosi about 14 short with leaners.  Democrat Bart Stupak thinks they’re 16 votes short.

Republican Representative David Dreier puts it at slighly less needed on the yes side:

In a press conference on Capitol Hill today, Rep. David Dreier (R., Calif.), ranking Republican on the House Rules Committee, said the word around the House is that Democrats are still about 10 votes away from securing the 216 they will need to pass changes to the health-care bill. Dreier added that that number might be moving in the wrong direction for Democrats.

It’s possible (see FDL count) it’s moving in the wrong direction, but, as always the disclaimer that these numbers are quite fluid and could literally change in a second or in accordance with how hard a particular arm is being twisted or how much of the moon they’re being promised for their vote.  I’d say they’re in the 10-12 vote short neighborhood given the reports above.

Be that as it may, Pelosi and company are exploring all the contingencies:

The House would vote on a more popular package of fixes to the Senate bill; under the House rule for that vote, passage would signify that lawmakers “deem” the health-care bill to be passed.

The tactic — known as a “self-executing rule” or a “deem and pass” — has been commonly used, although never to pass legislation as momentous as the $875 billion health-care bill. It is one of three options that Pelosi said she is considering for a late-week House vote, but she added that she prefers it because it would politically protect lawmakers who are reluctant to publicly support the measure.

“It’s more insider and process-oriented than most people want to know,” the speaker said in a roundtable discussion with bloggers Monday. “But I like it,” she said, “because people don’t have to vote on the Senate bill.”

This is Pelosi’s fix for the kamakazi role she’s asked many of the members of Congress to take on the HCR package. But, according to the article cited in the WaPo this would apply to the package of fixes they want the Senate to undertake when and if she’s able to push the Senate bill through the House. The article then hints it may be used on the full Senate bill as well. The use of the rule only makes sense (if the intent is to hide who voted for it) if it is used on the full Senate version now pending in the House. It is that bill which promises problems for Democrats in November if passed with their names attached.

Democrats have convinced themselves that the American people aren’t intrested in “process”. That is, they don’t care how they get it done, they just want to see it done. We’ve heard Obama echo this point as well as both Reid and Pelosi. But we’ve also heard them whine about an “up or down” vote, as in “American’s deserve an up or down vote”. Apparently not so much any more.

As for hiding the vote, it seems to be contrary to the Constitution (Art. I, Sec. 7):

But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively.

The argument, of course, is the House has the power to write it’s own procedural rules, but it doesn’t have the power to set aside the procedural rules the Constitution imposes. This would seem to be a blatant attempt to do just that.

But more than anything, it signals that the House leadership may be reaching the conclusion that trying to get 216 votes is a bridge too far. Pelosi wants this done this week. If you see it show up on the floor and this procedure introduced, you’ll know they don’t have the votes. You’ll also know that “America” is not going to get the “up or down vote” that Obama and Pelosi called for either.

~McQ