“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lame Duck Chris Dodd Goes It Alone

Ready for some rich political humor?

Lame ducky Democratic Senator Chris Dodd is attracting all sorts of media attention as he attempts to push a massive, comprehensive financial sector regulatory bill through the chamber.

In an election year, when he isn't even running, having been effectively driven from office by scandals involving his lax oversight of the very sector he presumes to know how to re-regulate, does anyone really believe the pig in question will pass?

It's been criticized for being too sweeping, too naive in assuming that scrambling regulatory chairs will make a difference, and including simply wrong-headed remedies which will, in time, constrict consumer access to credit.

Yesterday, Republican Senator Bob Corker called a press conference to lament that health care issues had supplanted financial regulatory reform in importance. That the bill died a few yards' of consensus.

Dodd then trotted out and declared the bill not to be dead. On the other hand, sources generally reported that the garbage Dodd will present on Monday is not a bi-partisan product.

So let me get this straight. The Democrats now have only 59 votes in a Senate that requires 60 to pass legislation. Dodd is retiring and has no more pull. He's been disgraced by his own inept performance on the Committee he now chairs.

He has no Republican allies co-sponsoring the bill.

It's a tumultuous election year that could quite possibly see both Houses changing party majorities.

And Chris Dodd thinks he has a bill, all on his own, that can pass?

Now, that's funny.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Reconciliation Feint

There has recently been discussion in the media of what may well be the real intentions of Wonderboy's administration with respect to the health care legislation currently bottled up among Democrats in Congress.

Simply put, the developing realization is of a House passage of the Senate's bill, followed by.....Barry signing it!

No reconciliation. No amendments. Nada.

In fact, imagine Harry Reid crowing that he never had to do something so questionable as pass financial amendments to the Senate's bill, 51-49, in order to cram health care down America's throat.

Instead, Frisco Nan and Wonderboy will have conspired to make lots of promises to House Democrats. And then promptly renege. Or claim Harry Reid reneged, so it's not their fault.

See the beauty of this for the First Rookie and his Congressional leaders? Everyone can point to someone else as the fall guy/gal, while, in reality, once that Senate bill passes the House, it can become law.

Period. End of story.

No amendments or changes needed. Rather than wait for the Senate to take its marching orders from the likes of Bart Stupak or other House Democrats, Wonderboy can simply announce that someone put a bill on his desk that passed both Houses. So he will sign it.

Think it can't happen? Think again.

There is literally no process on earth that can guarantee House members that, having passed the Senate bill, any of their concerns will actually be honored.

Stupak even said as much in an interview earlier this week.

Makes for a much more interesting endgame, doesn't it? So much so that the Wall Street Journal's editorial on the piece likened Wonderboy to pulling a 'double game' on his own Congressional party members, calling to mind a John Le Carre novel.

Pretty apt comparison.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Glenn Beck Interviews Eric Massa

Glenn Beck interviewed recently-resigned Representative Eric Massa (D-NY) last night. Here's the lead-in by Beck prior to his nearly hour-long one-on-one with Massa.

During the bulk of Beck's program, he tried to get Massa to deliver on his hints of evil deeds and illegal behaviors by administration aides and House leaders like Hoyer and/or Frisco Nan.

Nothing doing.

Finally, after about 40 minutes of listening to Massa talk about himself, rehash old news, and make vague allegations about shadowy figures, Beck asked him to tell viewers something important, revealing and new.

Massa couldn't deliver on that simple offer. He sputtered about backing your Congressman and demanding an end to Congressional name-calling at voters. Truly laughable stuff.

But nothing really specific about the alleged shower scene with Rahm Emanuel. Or anything really dirty about bribes while in office. Sure, he mentioned the risk of offending campaign donors. What's new about that?

What I believe Beck expected in the interview, something really outrageous involving either administration aides or House leaders, never materialized. About all Massa really did was reveal his cancer recurrence, that he was too tired to go on, had let everyone down by failing to adhere to his own high behavioral standards, then call for God and motherhood sorts of behavior from voters.

Oh, yes. Massa dangled questions about how quickly the apparently pre-packaged smear pieces on him appeared from Politico and Robert Gibbs. But he never made direct, detailed accusations.

Live interviews of public scandal figures is always risky. Beck began by warning that the interview might not happen, might end early, or might be useless.

At the end of the program, Beck apologized to viewers and declared Massa's interview to be the last.

Useless and oversold by the former Congressman.

At least Beck was honest in admitting it had been a wasted hour. But it was still interesting television.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Wonderboy As The New Jimmy Carter

Roughly a month ago, the Wall Street Journal published an editorial by Peter Wehner, a former official in several Republican administrations, entitled, "No, America Isn't Ungovernable."

Written in the wake of Scott Brown's election to a Massachusetts Senate seat, Wehner's piece catalogued liberals' knee-jerk whining that government no longer 'works' whenever the electorate doesn't see fit to vote their way, or support their Progressive agenda.

Wehner identifies several typical Progressive rants when faced with dissenting voters:

-stupid Americans who don't know what's good for them
-"nihilistic" Republicans who block all change
-an "ungovernable" America in need of Constitutional change to allow speedier action

The first two explanations for Progressive failure are, on their face, simply wrong.

You cannot simply dismiss voter sentiment as wrong when it doesn't go your way. Further, it becomes supremely arrogant to lie to voters about the consequences of legislation, then pronounce them too stupid to be capable of recognizing where their own interests lie.

As Wehner points out, and the recent, post-editorial health care conclave at Blair House demonstrated, Republicans have had plenty of ideas on genuinely reforming health insurance and care. Paul Ryan, Lamar Alexander and their colleagues enumerated many good ideas which could be legislated in pieces to reform current shortcomings without nationalizing the entire sector.

But the final rant of Progressives is the most alarming. Faced with dissent, they simply declare a need to rip up the Constitution, as well as standing Congressional procedures, e.g., the Senate 2/3 majority rule for passage of legislation, in order to "govern."

This equates Progressive notions with truth and correctness, while those who disagree are to be marginalized by whatever means necessary, including Constitutional subversion.

Wehner reminds us of Carter's counsel, Lloyd Cutler, opining in 1980,

"one might say that under the U.S. Constitution it is not now feasible to 'form a Government.' The separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches, whatever its merits in 1793, has become a structure that almost guarantees stalemate today."

Funny how, in Carter's wake, Ronald Reagan did just fine moving most of his agenda through a Democratic-controlled Congress, isn't it?

I guess Cutler was wrong. America wasn't ungovernable, it's just that Jimmy Carter wasn't up to the task.

Neither, evidently, is Barry Obama. Thus the reference to him by some who say he seeks to rule, not to govern.

Monday, March 8, 2010

What A Spending/Deficit Rule or Amendment Could Resemble

Last week, in the Wall Street Journal, two Republican House Members, Jeb Hensarling and Mike Pence, wrote an editorial concerning a Spending Limit Amendment to the Constitution.

I've discussed this notion with various colleagues in recent years. There are issues with how one states such a limit.

Hensarling and Pence argue for using a novel approach. Rather than wade into the morass of budget details and programs, they suggest a simple limit of 20% of "the economy," which one presumes to mean GDP.

What is covered in the 20% could easily be described as the sum of the stated federal budget plus off-budget programs, including Social Security, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.

They allow for relief from the limit in the event of a declaration of war, or a two-thirds vote of both Houses.

Personally, I'd opt for only the declaration of war. Otherwise, the current Congress could vote themselves exempt.

I like their simplicity and the notion that federal spending should be limited to its long-term average post-WWII.