Thursday, December 13, 2007

Democratic Finger-Pointing

Check out the Washington Post's great piece on finger-pointing among congressional Democrats (via Thunder Run):

When Democrats took control of Congress in January, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) pledged to jointly push an ambitious agenda to counter 12 years of Republican control.

Now, as Congress struggles to adjourn for Christmas, relations between House Democrats and their colleagues in the Senate have devolved into finger-pointing.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) accuses Senate Democratic leaders of developing "Stockholm syndrome," showing sympathy to their Republican captors by caving in on legislation to provide middle-class tax cuts paid for with tax increases on the super-rich, tying war funding to troop withdrawal timelines, and mandating renewable energy quotas. If Republicans want to filibuster a bill, Rangel said, Reid should keep the bill on the Senate floor and force the Republicans to talk it to death.

Reid, in turn, has taken to the Senate floor to criticize what he called the speaker's "iron hand" style of governance.

Democrats in each chamber are now blaming their colleagues in the other for the mess in which they find themselves. The predicament caused the majority party yesterday surrender to President Bush on domestic spending levels, drop a cherished renewable-energy mandate and move toward leaving a raft of high-profile legislation, from addressing the mortgage crisis to providing middle-class tax relief, undone or incomplete.

"If there's going to be a filibuster, let's hear the damn filibuster," Rangel fumed. "Let's fight this damned thing out."

In the past few weeks, the House has thrown wave after wave of legislation at the Senate -- on energy, Iraq war policy, the housing and mortgage crisis, and middle-income tax cuts offset largely by tax increases on the wealthy.

Most of it has died quietly, a predetermined fate that both sides could foresee before the first vote was cast. Yet they went ahead anyway. Just last night, the House, for a second time, passed legislation to stave off the growth of the alternative minimum tax, to be paid for by a measure to stop hedge fund managers from deferring compensation in offshore tax havens. Like the previous House version, it has virtually no chance of passing in the Senate.

Officially, House Democrats blame Senate Republicans, who have used parliamentary tactics to block even uncontroversial measures. But they are increasingly expressing public frustration with Reid and Senate Democrats for not putting up a better fight.
This is rich: An article tailor-made for conservatives. Thank you liberal media. You make my job easier.

David Mayhew argued in Congress: The Electoral Connection, that Members of Congress are "single-minded seekers of reelection."

Perhaps we're seeing a bit of that dynamic here: While party's policy-making record is a disaster, the expansion of congressional pork-barrelling has hit records. Obviously Mayhew's right: These folks care nothing about pragmatic policy change and accomodation with the White House on the big issues of the day. Members in both chambers of Congress badly misinterpretated the electorate's message in 2006, and they've been beholden the Democratic Party's hardline antiwar base (remember "
General Betray Us"?).

I noted yesterday that
the congressional pork-barrel machine has been pumping money into the districts of vulnerable Democratic freshman. Bullying John Murtha's right in the center of it, a symbol of the scandalous old-boys (and girls) business-as-usual do-nothing Congress.

They'll be out on their rears come November 2008. PrivatePigg over at Liberty Pundit has more to that effect, with
a post on GOP victories in special congressional elections this week.

See also Blue Crab Boulevard, "
Let The (Finger-Pointing) Games Begin":

Much of what the Democrats in the House are complaining about amount to the exact, same tactics the Democrats used over and over to block things in the Republican-controlled Congress. They act as if this is a surprise. They came to power promising bipartisan relations and have, instead, turned everything they touch into a partisan battle without even a hint of trying to gain Republican votes - other than by promising lavish pork-bribery now and then. Instead, they offer theatrics, as even their own party members acknowledge...
Couldn't have said it better myself!