Who are the reactionaries and who are the revolutionaries (progressives?) now? Senate minority leader Harry Reid sure sounds like the reactionary:
At a Capitol Hill Press conference to announce that the Senate had agreed to a continuing resolution that will keep the government funded through March 18th, Reid was asked about GOP plans to eliminate the Home Affordable Modification Program–a program that has permanently modified nearly 600,000 loans since its inception.
“Why can’t they work on things that help the economy?” Reid asked. “Why do they have to work on things that hurt the economy? Why would they want to eliminate a program like that? Just because it came from the White House? This is hard for me to understand why they’re so fixated on destroying our government, our economy.”
What he’s talking about is the Home Affordable Mortgage Program or HAMP. Earth to Reid — we can’t afford stuff like that anymore … not that we ever could. And besides, it isn’t a function of government.
But Reid is convinced, as are many of his colleagues, that it is the job of government to redistribute wealth and use other people’s money to rescue those who’ve gotten themselves into a financial bind (through no fault of the “other people”). And, of course, there’s this:
The Treasury Department had set aside $75 billion for the program,the administration promised would prevent 3-4 million foreclosures by helping people modify the terms of their loans. As of December 521,000 mortgages had been modified. That an abysmal record. But worse still is the fact that some money from HAMP has been diverted to other housing programs that are doing an even worse job of helping people stay in their homes.
"About $8.1 billion was set aside to enable certain borrowers who are current on their mortgage to refinance into Federal Housing Administration loans if their homes are worth less than what is owed on the mortgage. About 44 loans have been closed under that program." Did you get that? HAMP was poorly designed in that it was supposed to subsidize those who were delinquent on their mortgage payments, but at least some money was diverted to "help" those who were actually paying their way.
Another in a long line of wasteful programs modified on the fly to do things not approved originally. And that may be some sort of record – $8.1 billion and only closed 44 loans? If you think “created or saved jobs” cost a lot, do that math. It wasn’t the only diversion from the original program:
Another $7.6 billion was reallocated to emergency mortgage relief payments to unemployed workers in some states. The other program targeted by Republicans helps communities buy and redevelop foreclosed properties.
And there’s more. Says an expert:
Julia Gordon, senior policy counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending, said killing the entire lineup of foreclosure prevention when tens of thousands of homes are lapsing into foreclosure each month makes no sense. "If something is not working well enough, you fix it," Gordon said. "You don’t just toss it out."
How about if something isn’t working well at all and it costs money you can’t afford Ms. Gordon? What if it isn’t something government should be involved in – at least by the Constitution most of us were taught in school? That’s one of our problems, Ms. Gordon – we create these wasteful bureaucratic programs and never kill them off when they’re found to be useless or costing far more than anticipated. It is time to kill this turkey.
A $75 billion dollar boondoggle that should be cut and all we get from the reactionary Democrats and “experts” with a vested interest in continuing the farce is a fact free emotion laden argument about hurting the economy and destroying government?
Get a grip Mr. Reid.
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I know this comes as a shock – shock I tell you – but the left is just in a tizzy today about the GOP Senate caucus’s unanimous decision not to allow anything to go forward in the Senate’s lame duck session until the tax cut question is settled.
Andrew Sullivan characterizes it as "dickishness" (and Dan Riehl comments that Sullivan has finally found something to like about the GOP). John Cole is on about "first priorities being millionaires", Charles Johnson hits it with "GOP totally committed to obstructionism", and the not so Moderate Voice snarks "Common ground, Republican style".
Whatever happened to the celebration of the minority power of Senate Democrats when they were not in the majority? As I recall then, Minority Leader Reid was aghast that the majority should want the ability to ramrod it’s agenda through the Senate without any input or ability to check it by the minority. And at the time he used the filibuster (and that’s what this is by the GOP, a filibuster) he certainly considered it a check against "absolute power" and something that our much "wiser" founding fathers encouraged. Then it ensured “that no one person and no single party could have total control” according to Reid. He even lectured everyone on it:
…when legislation is supported by the majority of Americans, it eventually overcomes a filibuster’s delay, as public protests far outweigh any senator’s appetite for filibuster. But when legislation only has the support of the minority, the filibuster slows the legislation, prevents a senator from ramming it through and gives the American people enough time to join the opposition.
Mr. President, the right to extended debate is never more important than when one party controls Congress and the White House. In these cases, the filibuster serves as a check on power and preserves our limited government. …
For 200 years we’ve had the right to extended debate [i.e., filibuster]. It’s not some procedural gimmick. It’s within the vision of the founding fathers of our country. … They established a government so that no one person and no single party could have total control.
Some in this chamber want to throw out 214 years of Senate history in the quest for absolute power. They want to do away with Mr. Smith, as depicted in that great movie, being able to come to Washington. They want to do away with the filibuster. They think they’re wiser than our founding fathers. I doubt that that’s true.
Ah, but that was then, and this is now. When it was the "evil" GOP in charge of the Senate, and brave Sir Harry and the Dems were the only shield against their tyranny, the founders were "wise". And the lefty blogs agreed.
Now, apparently, when it is used in exactly the same way Harry Reid and Senate Democrats used it while they were in the minority, well it’s pure obstructionism, “dickishness” and other such descriptions driven by the left’s collective tantrum.
Apparently ensuring a system exists “so that no one person and no single party could have total control” is just outside the pale now. They want total control and they want to ram through what they desire without anyone’s interference. And they’re willing to have the necessary convenient memory lapse they’re all experiencing right now to ensure their “outrage” seems driven by principle.
Save it, boys and girls – I’ve been in the blogosphere more than one day and I remember quite well your arguments of “principle” when Harry Reid was playing the same game as the GOP is now (see above). Now you want everyone to swallow this faux outrage of yours and accept this argument of convenience that essentially throws your previous “principled” argument under the bus?
Sorry, no sale.
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And it’s a pretty pointed one showing a very solid Republican lame duck caucus – at least on this particular issue:
Senate Republicans promised Wednesday to block legislative action on every issue being considered by the lame-duck Congress until the dispute over extending the Bush-era tax cuts is resolved and an extension of current government funding is approved.
All 42 Senate Republicans signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, vowing to prevent a vote on "any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers."
If you’re wondering about the 42 Republicans, don’t forget Mark Kirk was sworn in yesterday as the new junior Senator from Illinois.
So there’s some solidarity that Democrats have to address if they want to pass anything else this session because with 42 automatically saying no, there’s nothing going to cloture and a vote.
Democrats are trying to pass several pieces of legislation before a more Republican Congress is sworn in in January, including the START nuclear arms treaty with Russia, a repeal of the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, and the so-called DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants.
Naturally, Mr. Reid isn’t happy:
Reid blasted the GOP letter on the Senate floor Wednesday morning, calling it part of a "cynical" and transparent" Republican strategy to "obstruct" and "delay" legislative progress while blaming the Democrats for failing to effectively govern.
I thought “transparent” was good? Heh … is this anymore cynical than trying to push through all the garbage on the Dem agenda while they have their last shot when the American people have said “jobs and the economy?” Yeah, I didn’t think so either.
And for once, Reid is at least partially right – this is a tactic to obstruct the majority party’s intention to do as it wishes without having to contend with the minority’s desires. That, as I’ve observed over the last few decades, is how minority parties have acted on both sides of the aisle in Senatorial politics. I get a little tired of both sides complaining about it. That’s the reality of the rules the yahoos making the complaints agreed upon (and used – Harry Reid was the minority leader once as well, and was very complimentary of the Senate’s tradition of protecting the rights of the minority party to have a say).
Anyway, the gauntlet is thrown. Other than whine, it’s going to be interesting to see how Reid, et al, react to this. Time is running out rather swiftly.
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Well. It looks like the Nevada senate race between Harry Reid and Sharon Angle might have just gotten a little more interesting:
An aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid repeatedly lied to federal immigration and FBI agents and submitted false federal documents to the Department of Homeland Security to cover up her illegal seven-year marriage to a Lebanese national who was the subject of an Oklahoma City Joint Terror Task Force investigation, FoxNews.com has learned.
Diana Tejada, Reid’s Hispanic Press Secretary, admitted to receiving payment for “some of her expenses” in exchange for fraudulently marrying Bassam Mahmoud Tarhini in 2003, strictly so he could obtain permanent U.S. residency, according to court documents.
I note the following with keen interest:
Tejada, now 28, was never charged for her role in the crime.
“We did not charge the woman, and of course we don’t discuss the reasons we don’t charge people,” said Bob Troester, spokesman for the Western District of Oklahoma U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case, which began as an FBI investigation out of the Oklahoma City Joint Terrorism Task Force.
But of course she wasn’t charged. She is, after all, an aide to the Senate Majority Leader. We can’t expect the law to apply to her.
Perhaps we should amend the Constitution to allow patents of nobility, then simply immunize their lordships from prosecution. That would at least have the virtue of being honest, unlike the “Equal Justice Under Law” tomfoolery that we spout.
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.
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?
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Sharon Angle might not be anyone’s choice for Senator if she were running against anyone else, but apparently when the opponent is the much loved Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, she’ll do just fine:
In Reno’s Washoe County and Las Vegas’s Clark County, Republican turnout was disproportionately high over the first three voting days, according to local election officials. The two counties together make up 86 percent of the state’s voter population.
Some 47 percent of early voters in the bellwether Washoe County so far have been Republicans, while 40 percent have been Democrats, according to the Washoe County Registrar. Nearly 11,000 people had voted in Washoe over the first three days of early voting, which began Saturday.
Voter registration in the county is evenly split, 39 percent to 39 percent. The disproportionate turnout is a concrete indication of the Republican enthusiasm that is expected to portend a nationwide GOP wave.
Early voting is often an indicator of how a race will go on election day as it tends to demonstrate which side has, as the article notes, the most enthusiasm about the election. Right now the numbers are pointing to a decided advantage for the GOP.
Well, you say, that’s a heavily Republican county. What about turnout in a heavily Democratic one? The news is pretty much the same:
In Clark County, which is heavily Democratic, more Democrats than Republicans have voted, but Republicans are outperforming their share of the electorate.
Out of the nearly 47,000 votes cast in Clark County, 46 percent were Democrats, 39 percent Republicans, according to the Clark County Election Department. But while Democrats make up 46 percent of the county’s registered voters, Republicans constitute just 33 percent.
Harry Reid, the best argument going for not using seniority as a basis for picking your leaders, may end up being a statistic. Perhaps his loss will push unemployment back up over 10%. It would be a fitting end for a politician who has done much to "lead" us into the mess we now suffer.
I know its early and yes, I know he could eek out a win, but I’m just feeling it in my bones. Angle will be a junior Senator with little power and someone Nevadans can get rid of in 6 years if she turns out like I think she will. But I think they’re realizing that in relative terms, she’s a small price to pay for getting rid of Harry Reid.
I say, “Amen” to that.
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"I’m going to be very honest with you — Chris Coons, everybody knows him in the Democratic caucus. He’s my pet. He’s my favorite candidate," Reid said.
"Let me tell you about him: A graduate of Yale Divinity School. Yale Law School. A two-time national debate champion. He represents two-thirds of the state now, in an elected capacity. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen him or heard him speak, but he is a dynamic speaker. I don’t mean loud or long; he’s a communicator. So that’s how I feel about Delaware. I’ve always thought Chris Coons is going to win. I told him that and I tried to get him to run. I’m glad he’s running. I just think the world of him. He’s my pet."
If you’re in DE and don’t have a reason to vote for O’Donnell yet, but you’re dissatisfied with the track the country’s on as is over 60% of the country, then perhaps this acknowledgement that Harry’s “pet” will reliably vote for whatever Harry wants in the Senate (assuming Reid is successful in retaining his seat) should provide one. Lapdogs for unpopular political leaders pushing unpopular agendas are always people you want in high places (talk about a tone deaf “endorsement”. It should be worth at least a minus 5% for Coons.).
So, if you want amnesty, cap and trade, even more taxation, higher spending, a bigger deficit and more government, vote for Harry’s “pet.”
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As everyone knows, Harry Reid is in the fight of his electoral life in Nevada. The Republican senate candidate, Sharon Angle, is within the margin of error on most polls looking at the race. So Harry needs something to attract more votes, obviously.
Hey, when you’re the Senate Majority Leader, you get to set that body’s legislative agenda and decide what bills considered by the Senate will or won’t contain and how they’ll be scheduled on the floor for votes.
So why not use that power to at least attempt some things which, while they may not succeed, will at least give one the “hey I tried, but it was the nasty Republicans, like my opponent who killed it”.
With that in mind, Reid has decided that the DREAM act needs to be a part of the defense authorization bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he will add the DREAM Act, a controversial immigration measure, to a defense policy bill the Senate will take up next week.
The decision means the defense bill, which often passes with bipartisan support, will be home to two major, thorny political issues – the other being the repeal of the military’s "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy.
Reid called the DREAM Act "really important" and said it should be passed because it provides a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants who go to college or serve in the military. DREAM is an acronym for Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act.
"I know we can’t do comprehensive immigration reform," Reid said at a news conference. "But those Republicans we had in the last Congress have left us."
This, again, is one of the reasons we have the mess we have now. This is an obvious and transparent attempt at vote buying. It is calculated to appeal to a bloc of voters who’ve been dissatisfied with Reid’s performance on their behalf. It is pure special interest politics that gives an incumbent like Reid an advantage. And if it goes down to defeat, he can at least point to it and say “I tried”. If it manages to be passed, he can point to it and take credit. Maybe that will get him just enough votes to slide by.
Pure short-term, electoral politics – a consistent problem with our system.
And I love how “serving in the military” is the equivalent of “going to college”. Why, do they have minefields in the college square. PKM’s in the admin building sweeping the quadrangle? IEDs in the parking lots?
Yeah, that’s an aside, but you get my drift. As usual, legislation cobbled together with no real thought except short-term gain and haphazardly thrown into another bill which has absolutely noting to do with immigration. That’s how you get this morass of bad law we endure that features contradictions and unintended consequences galore.
We all have to hope that Harry Reid becomes a second Tom Daschle – a sitting Senate Majority Leader shown the door by his constituents. He embodies everything that’s wrong with today’s politicians. Let Harry enjoy his golden years in forced retirement.
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It appears that Congressional Democrats are finally at the “acceptance” stage of the grieving process over their upcoming losses in Congress. And the reality of those losses is propelling some to look at the lame duck session of Congress as the last opportunity to pass some of their and their clientel’s most desired legislation.
In the House, Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters last month that for bills like "card check"—the measure to curb secret-ballot union elections—"the lame duck would be the last chance, quite honestly, for the foreseeable future."
And you can count on them pulling out all the stops to do so. The same goes for the Senate:
Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, chair of the Senate committee overseeing labor issues, told the Bill Press radio show in June that "to those who think [card check] is dead, I say think again." He told Mr. Press "we’re still trying to maneuver" a way to pass some parts of the bill before the next Congress is sworn in.
Of course they are – the handwriting on the wall is in seemingly permanent marker. What they’re doing, frankly, isn’t surprising or unusual. But it could be very damaging. John Fund quotes Jay Rockefeller as saying, “I’ve got lots of things I want to get done”. The lame duck also said:
"It could be a huge deal," he told Roll Call last month. "We could get the country on a sound long-term fiscal path."
Which Fund opines, undoubtedly means new taxes in exchange for extending some (but not all) of the Bush tax cuts.
But wait there’s more. Fund lists a few probable lame duck priorities for the Democrats:
Senate ratification of the New Start nuclear treaty, a federally mandated universal voter registration system to override state laws, and a budget resolution to lock in increased agency spending.
Then there is pork. A Senate aide told me that "some of the biggest porkers on both sides of the aisle are leaving office this year, and a lame-duck session would be their last hurrah for spending." Likely suspects include key members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Congress’s "favor factory," such as Pennsylvania Democrat Arlen Specter and Utah Republican Bob Bennett.
President Obama failed to mention climate change legislation during his recent, Oval Office speech on the Gulf oil spill was that he wants to pass a modest energy bill this summer, then add carbon taxes or regulations in a conference committee with the House, most likely during a lame-duck session.
That’s a very ambitious and, frankly costly and destructive lame duck legislative agenda.
Whether or not they can get all those balls in the air remains to be seen. Blue Dog Democrats, who face the toughest races of all, may not be as easily gulled into supporting any of these items given the fallout from health care reform.
But that probably won’t stop Pelosi and Reid – of Obama – from pushing the agenda since they have to be aware this is likely their last chance to do so. And they proved with health care that they’ll throw anyone under the bus to get what they want.
To include the American people.
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And that message: is if your political opponents are in a hole of their own making, don’t throw them a rope.
That’s precisely what Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was in the middle of doing prior to this past week. He was the lone Republican Senator working on the “climate” bill with Senators John Kerry (D-VN) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT). Additionally, he was also the only Republican Senator working on immigration.
This past weekend, Graham pulled out of the cap-and-trade “climate” bill, leaving it in doubt – although word now has it that it was Harry Reid (D-Desperate) who decided it must wait for immigration. That would actually make sense since it is Harry Reid who is in re-election trouble in a state with a large Hispanic population who’ve complained Democrats haven’t done anything with immigration.
Graham seems to have finally awakened to the fact that he has an opportunity to slow both cap-and-trade and immigration down and hobble the administration’s agenda in this Congress. Today he made it clear that immigration was off the table, as far as he was concerned, for this year – if not next:
Sen. Lindsey Graham, the sole Republican working on a bill to legalize illegal immigrants, in effect put the bill on the shelf on Tuesday, saying that a debate now would destroy any prospects for passage and that the issue needs to wait until 2012.
The remarks likely signal the end of any serious chance for broad immigration legislation to pass this year, since Mr. Graham, South Carolina Republican, was the best hope for a partnership with President Obama and Democrats who want to write a bill.
Unlike the cap-and-trade bill, there has been no immigration bill yet written. So, given the process, even given priority, legislation would take months and months before passage. Graham was the forlorn hope of Reid and the Democrats on immigration. He effectively slammed that door in Reid’s face yesterday. And he’s playing some smart politics in how he’s framing his decision. He’s tapping into that latent anger within much of the country about the refusal of the federal government to secure the borders.
“It is impossible for me and any other serious Democrat to get this body to move forward until we prove to the American people we can secure our borders,” Mr. Graham told Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who was testifying at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
“I believe we can do it by 2012 if we’re smart,” he said.
Ms. Napolitano, a former governor of Arizona, disagreed with Mr. Graham’s evaluation of border security. She said she knows the southwest border as well as anyone and, by every measure Congress has laid out, the border is more secure: Fewer illegal immigrants are being apprehended, and more fencing and infrastructure have been deployed.
But under close questioning by Mr. Graham, Ms. Napolitano could not say whether she would declare the border secure if she were still the governor of Arizona. She called it an “unfair question.”
“It is a fair question, and I’ll give you my answer: I don’t think it is,” Mr. Graham said. “I think since the last effort to solve immigration the border situation has deteriorated.”
Popular position that plays well to the Tea Partiers and again points to ineffective government. Essentially, in one week, Graham has made the completion of the Democratic/Obama agenda much, much more difficult – if not impossible – during this session of Congress.