Tuesday, January 31, 2006

As If The News Weren't Bad Enough

This has been one hell of a week, and it's still only Tuesday. The current crop of spineless Democrats in the Senate failed to stop the cloture vote on the nomination of Sam Alito (75 to 25), and the vote to confirm him was 58 to 42, which means that 15 Democrats voted for cloture then proceeded to vote against the nomination . How cynical is that? Mr. Alito was sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice this afternoon so that he could sit with his new best buddies at tonight's State of the Union Address.

Then, this afternoon I finally got around to reading the online edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and I found this editorial.

As one of its final acts in 2005, Congress approved an odious budget bill that would trim $38.8 billion from projected federal spending over the next five years, pushing loan costs higher for millions of college students, subverting pensions for disabled Americans, crippling farm conservation programs and depriving more than 20 million poor children of routine checkups and preventive medical care.

Lawmakers approved the package with much handwringing, but while they were home for the winter recess they learned that the bill -- a 774-page behemoth introduced on the House floor at 1 a.m. and passed at 5 a.m. -- is even worse than they thought. The Congressional Budget Office discovered that it contains a secret $22 billion giveaway to HMOs. The Association of Minnesota Counties found that it cuts preventive "case management" funding so that thousands of elderly and mentally ill clients will lose services that keep them in their own homes rather than in costly institutions. The Center for Law and Social Policy estimates that billions of dollars in court-ordered child-support payments will go uncollected because of cuts to state enforcement programs.

Because of a procedural quirk on Capitol Hill, this same budget bill has to come back to the House for a final vote on Wednesday, and conscientious members of the House should take this opportunity to reverse their votes.

...In short, the House bill represents the chamber's recent arrogance at its worst -- radical changes in social policy written without hearings or testimony, special favors delivered to the insurance industry and other moneyed interests, bills the size of telephone books introduced and passed literally in the dark of night. Many members of the House, Democrats and Republicans, are offended by this form of sloppy, high-handed lawmaking, and this is the perfect chance to say so.
[Emphasis added]

The entire House of Representatives comes up for election this year. Many of us liberals believe that given the far reaching corruption scandals that Republicans face and the dramatically low poll numbers for the Emperor in Chief that we have a good shot at gaining dramatically in Congress, perhaps even taking one of the houses, but if the Democrats are just Republicans in blue suits, then why should we bother?

I think it's time to get back to the phones, faxes, and snail mile. We need to write each and everyone of our Representatives in the House, and if they are Democrats, we need to remind them that it will be hard to support financially anyone who voted in favor of this budget. And then, after the roll call vote, we need to find out who voted how and then carry through on our threats.

Damn, but I'm angry!


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