Thursday, December 23, 2010

The 111th Congress

It's been a tumultuous two years when it comes to the 111th Congress. Some big legislation got passed (health care reform, 'stimulus' packages, etc), most of which were hardly the progressive programs we envisioned when we voted in 2008. The stuff we wanted just never happened. The excuses emanating from the White House and the Senate all boiled down to the same line: "We just don't have the votes!"

Ironically, after the Democrats got whacked, and whacked hard, in the November elections, somehow the votes magically appeared during the lame duck session. All sorts of legislation got passed that bore at least a little resemblance to the progressive ideals. The DREAM Act failed, but the New START treaty passed, as did a bill to provide further health care treatment to the 9/11 first responders.

What is significant about the latter two victories is that for weeks the Senate Republican leaders made it clear that both were dead in the water. After their victory in the November elections, Republicans figured they'd take over now, rather than later. Somehow, however, that just didn't happen.

From the Los Angeles Times:

The Senate approved a nuclear arms treaty with Russia and a bill to aid Sept. 11 first responders Wednesday, wrapping up a lame-duck congressional session that left Democrats jubilant and some Republicans feeling whipsawed. ...

"President Obama was on the verge of being the next Jimmy Carter, and incompetent GOP messaging and legislating has made him into a modern-day FDR," said Brian Darling, a Senate analyst for the conservative Heritage Foundation. ...

"It seems that the GOP snatched defeat from the jaws of victory," Darling said.

Only the Republicans could see the past two weeks' flurry of activity as an unmitigated disaster. Unless they get everything they want, the aren't satisfied. The 9/11 first responders bill isn't the one originally introduced: to get Republican votes, the initial appropriation was reduced by nearly one-half. That's a huge difference, but the compromise and the pressure being brought by public disgust at the GOP's recalcitrance worked. Harry got the votes.

Well, the 111th Congress is going out with a bang, but it would have been nice if Harry had pulled a few of these noisy tricks earlier on, say, starting in the second week of January, 2008. His job is going to be more difficult in 2011, and I don't see any major changes in Democratic messaging, so the 112th Congress will probably be even less satisfying for liberals than the 111th.

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Blogger DBrashier said...



2:39 PM  

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