Free Markets, Free People

Senate

The left hypocritically whines in unison about Senate GOP filibuster threat

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.

~McQ

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Dear Harry – Senate GOP sends Harry Reid a message

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.

(HT: Neo)

~McQ

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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.

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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.

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Senate math

OK, let’s start getting into specifics of predicted outcomes this next Tuesday, this time for the Senate

I think for the most part you can comfortably say that it has come down to 6 toss up races which will decide the final tally in the Senate.  Without those 6, the split is 49/45 Democrats (Lieberman and Sanders are counted in the Dem total).

The six in question are NV, PA, IL, WA, CO and WV.  3 of them are open seats (PA, WV, IL).  I say the GOP takes 2 of 3.  Just as Ted Kennedy’s seat is now held by a Republican, so will Barack Obama’s old seat.  I think Toomey wins handily in PA, but Manchin takes WV for the Dems.   So we’re at 50/47.

In the three toss up races, all involving Democratic incumbents, I think the GOP takes 2 of 3 again, with Patty Murray winning in WA for the Dems in a close one.  Angle will just nudge Reid and Buck will edge Bennet. 

Final tally 51/49 Dems.  +8 for the GOP

Possible surprise for GOP – Murray goes down.  She’s within the margin of error in the polls and if there’s going to be a surge prior to Nov. 2nd this year, it most likely isn’t going to be for the Dems.  However, we’re talking Washington state here.

Possible surprise for Dems – Giannoulias pulls off the win in IL.  We are talking about IL, after all.

What wouldn’t be a particular surprise – Reid somehow coming out on top in NV, although I think Angle has done nothing to hurt herself lately and may have even sealed the deal with flowers to Joy Behar (the perfect foil at the perfect time).

Anyway, top end: GOP +8.  And that’s more than I would have predicted 2 or 3 months ago. 

~McQ

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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.

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Are you willing to pay much more for green energy?

It is a legitimate question, wouldn’t you say, especially if government plans on forcing its use through mandates.

Here’s a list that gives the cost of a megawatt of power (2008 dollars) in 2016 according to the government’s Energy Information Agency:

•Conventional coal power: $78.10
• Onshore wind power: $149.30
• Offshore wind power: $191.10
• Thermal solar power: $256.60
• Photo-voltaic solar power: $396.10

That’s what it will cost you, depending on the method of generation, for the mandated “integration” of renewable energy if Senate Democrats have their way:

A nationwide renewables mandate, or RES, is a longstanding pillar of Democratic energy plans that requires utilities to source certain amounts of their electricity from renewable sources. The bill currently under consideration in the Senate would require utilities to derive 15 percent of their electricity from sources like wind, solar and geothermal by 2021.

Here’s the problem.  At the moment, “renewables” comprise about 6% of the electricity generated in the US.  Not included by the Democrats is nuclear generation.   Oh, and btw, of that 6% renewables, half, or 3%, comes from hydro-electric.  There are no plans to increase that by Dems either.

So here we have the beginnings of a wooden headed plan to mandate the use of heavily subsidized “renewable” energy which would, without a doubt jack up the price of energy that is absolutely critical to the fundamental functioning of America.  David Kreutzer:

“Electric power is one of the most critical inputs to a modern economy. Thus, it is no surprise that forcing the cost of electricity to rise dampens economic activity. The cost increase for electricity can be viewed as a particularly damaging energy tax, because a renewable mandate, unlike the case of a normal tax, provides no revenue to at least partially offset the higher cost. By way of comparison, the highway use tax on gasoline raises the price of gasoline, but it also generates revenues for building and maintaining roads and bridges. On the other hand, a renewable energy standard raises costs in the form of less efficient production, which provides no economic benefit.”

As Con Carroll points out:

If electricity created by wind and other renewables was cost competitive, consumers would use more of it without a federal law to force consumption. But renewable energy is not cost competitive, hence the need for government coercion to force the American people to buy it.

And it will be both a job and economy killer as Kreutzer explains.  If this is “going forward”, then I’m all for bringing back the old America.  This is simply stupidity on a stick and another example of the Democrats being agenda driven instead of reality driven (so much for the “reality based” community, no?).  It’s a “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” ideologically driven recipe for economic disaster.  

But if Democrats have their way, you’ll be paying the bill in a few years that could be much, much higher than it is now for no appreciable difference or reason other than that’s how they want it to be.  You’ll be paying it, that is, if you have a job.

Another reason to change the balance of power in the Senate and limit the danger Democrats pose.

~McQ

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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

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