After losing 63 seats in the House and 6 in the Senate just a month ago, Congressional Democrats have learned.......absolutely nothing. What did the voters reject, exactly? Why did they toss Democrats en masse?
Everyone besides committed liberals understands that big government and unapologetic rampant deficit spending were what the voters were protesting against. Not just Republican wins, but Tea Party-backed conservative wins proves this point.
The Democrat Response
So how have Democrats responded in the "lame duck" session between the election and the end of this Congress? By acknowledging the will of the people? Being contrite, making arrangements for a smooth transition to a more conservative legislative body? Negative. They have responded by throwing a circus tent up and working as hard as possible to ram through every left-leaning bill they can find. Senate Majority Leader Reid is dragging the session out, working on weekends and, it looks like, right up to Christmas, and maybe even after Christmas, to maximize the number of hours spent on these bills. He has had two years, since President Obama took office, to push the bills through, yet now is the time.
They Lie. Why?
The really hilarious part of this is that he stands up there and claims that Republicans, with their opposition, caused the mad rush, and that by keeping everyone there and trying to run all this through he is obeying the will of the people, doing the people's work.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Gallup just released a poll that shows Congress's approval by the public at 13%, the lowest in history. The 83% disapproval (only 4% had no opinion) is also a record. And this poll was taken before Reid started cracking the whip on all the liberal legislation.
In reality, what happened was that Reid and his counterpart in the House, Nancy Pelosi, calculated before the November election that they might be able to salvage a few seats if they held off on controversial votes that would force Democrats in Congress to go on the record with what they all knew were unpopular stands. Stands against raising taxes across the board, stands for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," stands for further extensions of unemployment insurance (without corresponding reductions in other spending, leading to new deficit spending), etc.
In the end, the damage done to Democrat/liberal power by the election was amazing. Yet the most powerful Democrats (none of whom lost their seats) never acknowledged the reasons for the "shellacking," as President Obama put it. Obama himself never admitted that voters had rejected his decidedly leftist policies of growing government; forcing through unpopular and earth-shaking legislation (i.e. Obamacare) on purely partisan votes, with no input from conservatives and no transparency in the bill's development; extending the welfare state; and taking the nation deep into debt. Instead he rationalized that he hadn't sold these policies well enough. That people didn't understand them. That was all he took responsibility for.
Changing Course...Or Not
To his credit, Obama has been the only liberal on the Hill to actually start changing course, responding to the imminent demise of his super-majority in Congress. He actually sat down at the table with Republican leaders, showed a tiny bit of contrition, and hammered out a compromise with Republicans on "extending the Bush tax cuts," which means not raising taxes come January 1. He publicly came out and vented about having to make such a deal, but make it he did. Then his own party came out against the compromise, and he has spent a week trying to get them all in line.
So here we find Congress, arguing about this compromise bill, in which both sides won, and both sides lost. But the really galling part of this is all the other bills that Reid and Pelosi have been bringing out, knowing that they only have a few weeks left before the big shift in power arrives. Rather than respect that shift, and the voice of the voters, Pelosi and Reid are pushing through votes on legislation they know they will have no chance of passing come January. More legislation that is wildly unpopular, some of which is reckless in its spending.
Some of What They're Working On
We have "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," that invention of the Clinton administration that acknowledged tolerance for homosexuals in the military, a genuinely good piece of legislation. Having established tolerance, the gay lobby has moved to "acceptance" as their new goal, and have been demanding to serve "openly" in the military (I can only guess what they have in mind). The conservatives wish to hold hearings about this and demonstrate that the decision is hardly the slam-dunk the liberals claim it is. But Pelosi and Reid will have none of that. They voted on it already in the House, and it's coming up in the Senate unless the GOP filibusters it, which is not clear if they will.
Then there is the DREAM act, which would, among other things, give amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants and allow them to get in-state tuition at state universities despite their illegal status. This is, according to Reid, again a very urgent piece of legislation. Except that it's really not.
There is also the issue of the START treaty, an arms-control treaty with Russia currently under consideration by Congress. President Obama wants something he can hang his hat on besides the controversial Obamacare, and something that looks like a foreign-policy success. Republican experts on these types of treaties have been counseling to take a breath, and let them get a look at the negotiation minutes because they want to see what Russia is expecting from us if we sign the treaty. The White House has so far ignored the requests. And Reid/Pelosi push it forward for vote.
But They're Having Success
What's so remarkable about all this activity is the success they seem to be having. DADT was passed by a wide margin in the House today. It's not clear what will happen in the Senate, but it's entirely possible this legislation will go through before year-end, results be damned. In a survey of combat Marine troops in the Middle East, 57% were negative or "very negative" on the idea of repeal of DADT. Yet they are not heard. Reportedly, many troops around the world did not bother to fill out the survey because they did not believe anyone would look at it anyway, since the politicians, and even the Chairman of the JCS, have already endorsed the repeal. What will happen to troop retention? Combat readiness? Who knows? Who cares? Not the liberals, apparently.
If the Republicans don't halt Reid's excesses right here and now, what good are they? McConnell and Boehner were in power when the GOP lost horribly 4 years ago, and they should not be the leaders now, in my opinion. If they let Harry Reid walk all over them, drag them through the Christmas season voting, but failing to stop, all manner of liberal legislation, then what good are they?
A Bridge Too Far
Liberal Democrats, when in power, always get somewhat totalitarian, and they also always eventually over-reach. Reid made jaws drop all around a couple days ago when he wheeled out a new 2000-page "omnibus" bill containing a trillion dollars of spending, including nearly 6,500 earmarks totalling $8 billion. And he announced this monstrosity, like all the others, needed to be passed right away, in the lame duck session, and that he would keep everyone there until the last possible moment, on January 4th, 2011, if necessary, "to do the people's will." At this point, Reid has crossed over into the Twilight Zone.
Time To End It
Stop the insanity. Hold a filibuster party. Get a few copies of the phone book you can read out loud. Whatever it takes. If Reid's or Pelosi's pride or dignity won't stop them from force-feeding the country bad legislation that will take years, if ever, to undo, the GOP needs to pull out all the stops and run out the clock to stop them. That should be their mandate until 1/4/11.