Friday, December 03, 2010

Really Lame

The lame-duck 111th Congress will end with none of the high hopes and bravado with which it began two years ago. With the Democrats in charge of both the White House and the Congress, the horrid economy, it was hoped, would be healed by real pump-priming, returning people to work. Universal health care access was a real possibility. Ending the unconstitutional policies of warrantless wiretapping and domestic spying was on the horizon. Heady days, those first ones.

Well, all that hope and all that change just didn't pan out. The president was more for making nice to the people who brought on the disasters of the past eight years than for leading the nation out of the swamp he inherited. The Senate Majority leader was constantly counting votes rather than forcing the opposition into votes which would spotlight its true nature. In other words, nothing of any real value to the 98% of the country who didn't own multiple homes and yachts got accomplished. As a result, the Democrats got whupped soundly November 2.

Buoyed by the victory, the Republicans have made it clear that absolutely nothing will get accomplished these last few days of the lame duck session.

Among congressional Republicans, confidence levels are so high that they are barreling over what might be considered standard political traps. As they fight to preserve tax cuts for the wealthiest taxpayers, for instance, they are prepared to let unemployment insurance benefits run out for 2 million jobless Americans unless offsetting spending cuts can be found.

Republican Senate leaders on Wednesday threatened to derail a bill that had previously received bipartisan backing — a food-safety measure — on the grounds that nothing should move until a deal on tax cuts is reached.

I think it safe to assume that the 112th Congress will present us with more intransigence and less accomplishment than the 111th. The economy will remain stagnant for most of us, and states will continue to face horrible choices in trying to balance their budgets. The already frayed safety nets will finally rip all the way through, exposing not only the vulnerable but also the near-vulnerable to misery. And then, when the 2012 elections roll around, the Democrats will be punished even further, losing the White House and the Senate.

Heckuva job, Barack.

Heckuva job, Harry.

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