Free Markets, Free People

Senate

The omnibus blows an engine

I think it is unanimous, at least on the right, that the withdrawal of the Democrat’s omnibus 1.2 trillion dollar spending bill – larded with over 6,600 earmarks – is a “good thing”.  Instead we can hope that a continuing resolution keeping funding at current levels (or reduced – that wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all) is passed.  Sen. Mitch McConnell was waiving around a one-page bill yesterday that essentially does that.

One page.  Imagine.

Not almost 2,000.  One page.

Anyway, I’m glad to see the GOP standing tough on this stuff.  And the other good news is the midterm election losses have so unnerved the Democrats that Harry Reid couldn’t find the votes for cloture on the bill.

McConnell, embarrassed by reports on his own earmarks in the omnibus, went to the Senate floor Thursday to propose a one-page, “clean,” two-month extension of the current stop-gap funding resolution that has kept the government funded since Oct. 1. And as if caught with their hands in the cookie jar, he and other top Republicans vowed to do everything in their powers to kill the omnibus to square themselves with their tea party backers.

Fear is a wonderful motivator, isn’t it? POLITICO spends much of the article pointing out the hypocrisy of the GOP who also had earmarks in the bill.  And that’s about the only talking point the lefty blogosphere has as well.   Yup, stipulated and acknowledged.  But look how it turned out and they know why.  Retribution from those supposedly on their side.  They know it will happen.  Yes indeed, fear is indeed a fine motivator if properly applied.

Which says to me that the Tea Parties need to understand that the pressure they’ve been able to bring to bear to this point is a) working and b) needs to be unrelentingly continued. They didn’t “win” and can now “quit”.  Slack up now and I promise they’ll be right back at their old ways before you can blink twice.

Of course representatives of the administration weighed in in favor of the omnibus spending bill trying to sell it as a necessity:

“We need these resources now more than ever to support national security priorities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where we are helping secure gains made by our military and preventing the spread of violent extremism,” Clinton said. “Our budget is being used to help stabilize the global economy, combat extreme poverty, demolish transnational criminal networks, stop global health pandemics and address the threat of climate change.”

“These are not partisan issues; they are national imperatives,” Clinton said.

They may not be partisan issues in particular, but there’s absolutely nothing that says the funding for some of what is deemed “national imperatives” be funded in a clean bill addressing that.  But it is time to stop this incessant habit of using any passing bill as a chance to lard it up with earmarks that would never survive an actual appropriations process vote.

You can’t fix the spending problem until you take the first step – and this was a good first step.  But only that.  GOP, you’re on notice – you’re expected to do a lot more of this in the next Congress.  We want to see spending cut dramatically and the deficit reduced equally as dramatically.  

Yes, hope springs eternal.  But who knew the GOP would find a spine?  Keep it up boys and girls, we’re all out here watching you, you better believe it.

~McQ

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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

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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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