Thursday, November 17, 2005

More indications of the growth of Spinus Democraticus

The beginning of the trend?

Earlier this month Democrats showed some initial backbone when Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid shut the Senate down in order to secure Republican agreement to investigate (as they had promised) the administration's culpablilty in the misuse/obfuscation of intelligence in the run up to the Iraq war.

As I noted then:

My hope is that, as tempers cool, the Republican leadership will recognize the widom of this lesson. And combined with the certain knowledge that Bush's incredible shrinking poll numbers provide them with zero political leverage, they may find a way to back away from the far right precipice upon which they are currently perched.

And my hope is further, that ... Reid's action today will not be regarded as an anomally, but as the start of the rise of the fighting Democratic party.

Given the failure today of the Republican congress' latest attempt to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, I was right on both counts.

Clearly Democrats are beginning to feel their oats:
The 224-209 vote against the $142.5 billion spending bill disrupted plans by Republican leaders to finish up work on this year's spending bills and cast doubt on whether they would have the votes to pass a major budget-cutting bill also on the day's agenda.

Democrats, unanimous in opposing the legislation, said it included the first cut in education funding in a decade and slashed spending for several health care programs. "It betrays our nation's values and its future," said House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland. "It is neither compassionate, conservative nor wise."

And moderate Republicans, seeing their political lives flash before their eyes, tipped the scale:
Twenty-two Republicans voted against the measure, many of them moderates who also are swing votes on the budget-cutting legislation.

Most amazing to me though, is that some Republicans, rather than admit that swindling the poor in order to give further tax breaks to the rich may not be the best political idea, instead blamed the bill's failure on, get this, its lack of pork. I kid you not:
Republicans said they may have lost votes because this year's bill, down $1.5 billion from last year, included no special projects or earmarks for lawmakers. "You take those out and you lose the incentive," said Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., who voted for the bill. [Emphasis mine-CK]

Please note the term "earmark" is DC-speak for the pork barrel projects exemplified by the infamous "bridge to nowhere" so recently dropped from the legislation.

And think for a moment about what Congressman Davis' statement means.

I realize that he's trying to imply that Democrats would've supported this bill had it had contained enough pork.

But since the Dems have shown themselves untippable in their committment to continuing to feed the nation's most vulnerable, the real implication is that the swing votes from his own party could've been bought given the right "incentives".

It's fun when Republicans eat their own.

A note on the WaPo story

One gets the impression the the Republicans are mainly upset that now they'll have to work beyond Thanksgiving;
The defeat upset Republican plans to finish up nearly all the spending bills before leaving for the Thanksgiving recess.

But the real problem is that having failed to cut back spending on programs for the poor, Republicans will have to even further stretch the incredulity of their claims to fiscal sanity if they are going to continue their vaunted Paris Hilton wealth protection plan.

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