Failing Democratic Solidarity

UPDATE: The Senate passed the $410 Billion Omnibus bill 62-35 today, with all earmarks intact.  I want to congratulate five Senators who asked for NO EARMARKS:  Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma; Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina; Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin; John McCain, R-Arizona; and Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri.  They should be honored for actually considering America first. It is up to Mr. Obama to keep his word, but he won’t.  “If the president were serious about his pledge for change, he would veto this bill. He won’t,” McCain said.  I want to hear no more from this administration about Change We Can Believe In; this is politics as usual, at its worst.

For all of Mr. Obama’s popularity and charisma, for all of the Democrats dominance in Washington as well as the Republicans irrelevance, you would think the new President would have an easier time of things.

However, the revolt has started in full force on Mr. Obama’s proposed budget.

It started most conspicuously with Republicans immediately after the pseudo-State of the  Union.  Republicans called it a monstrous piece of liberal propaganda that would put the U.S. Government into enormous debt for as far as the eye can see.

Now, Democrats appear to be having their own concerns. This bill was supposed to already been passed.  But Republicans, with several Democrat defectors, were able to uphold a filibuster.  So Majority leader Harry Reid had to consent to actual debate and amendments on the Senate floor!  I know, a horrifying thought, actually debating the contents of legislation.

Well, that has come back to haunt Mr. Obama and Democrats.  Now, legislators are actually reading the bill, and realizing how much there is not to like.

The dissenters started to arise when Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.), a member of the Democratic leadership, in protest of a little-noticed Cuba provision that would ease U.S. rules on travel and imports to the communist-led island decided to vote against the Omnibus.  Then, a bipartisan group of senators from farm states refused to include Mr. Obama’s provisions on limiting farm subsidies.  That revolt has spread to include Pell Grants, tax deduction provisions, cap-and-trade of carbon emissions, increasing tarriffs on foreign corporations, etc.

And as of yet, they have yet to discuss issues that could be explosive, such as means testing for Medicare benefits, something that Democrats have steadfastly opposed in the past. There will be a fight eventually over Veterans having to pay their health care costs through private insurance, something the Obama Administration is seriously considering.  Additionally, there are many defense budget proposals potentially on the chopping block, and Democratic legislators are resisting those cuts as well.

The Republicans have yet to find a clear voice on these issues, and that is to their detriment.  They should hone their voice to one common point:  What will help the economy today?   A time of crisis is a time to worry about the short term, not the long term.  After 9/11, should we have worried about longterm budget effects of fixing New York City?  After Katrina, should we have been concerned about increasing taxes to pay for saving lives and homes?  This is a time of crisis, and the Republicans should make that their key point.

Part of the Democrat opposition is uncertainty.  They don’t want to be held responsible not only for the huge deficit hole being created by these budgets, but additionally, if the economy doesn’t recover that albatross will also be held over their heads.  And that doesn’t even discuss the public’s hatred for the 9,000 earmarks in the bill, which amazingly some Democrats are now supporting! Additionally, they have lost faith in Tim Geithner rescuing the financial system, and they know it is likely he and the administration will soon come to Capitol Hill to ask for more money for that endeavour.