Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Democrats the dividers


"House Democrats intend to pass a raft of popular measures as part of
their well-publicized plan for the first 100 hours. They include
tightening ethics rules for lawmakers, raising the minimum wage,
allowing more research on stem cells and cutting interest rates on
student loans.

But instead of allowing Republicans to fully participate in
deliberations, as promised after the Democratic victory in the Nov. 7
midterm elections, Democrats now say they will use House rules to
prevent the opposition from offering alternative measures, assuring
speedy passage of the bills and allowing their party to trumpet early

"The episode illustrates the dilemma facing the new party in power.
The Democrats must demonstrate that they can break legislative
gridlock and govern after 12 years in the minority, while honoring
their pledge to make the 110th Congress a civil era in which Democrats
and Republicans work together to solve the nation's problems. Yet in
attempting to pass laws key to their prospects for winning reelection
and expanding their majority, the Democrats may have to resort to some
of the same tough tactics Republicans used the past several years.

Democratic leaders say they are torn between giving Republicans a say
in legislation and shutting them out to prevent them from derailing
Democratic bills."

The funny thing is that tightening of ethic rules is getting the most
resistance from within Pelosi's own ranks with Murtha leading the
opposition. As for raising the minimum wage, it hurts the poor the
most because they are the ones who occupy the bulk of minimum wage
jobs due to lack of skills and lose jobs when small businesses are
squeezed by minimum wage increases. I guess the Democrats just want to
screw the poor so their college kids can get paid higher in their
waiter/waitress jobs. As for federal funding of stem cell research,
that's actually not a priority as private funding is taking off as
companies see the profit within reach. As for cutting interest rates
on student loans, students wouldn't need the student loans if the
school costs didn't outstrip inflation. The fact is that the
government's long term subsidization of colleges has removed the
market forces to keep costs down. It is the case where the government
causes more harm by trying to help as in the case with minimum wage,
social security, health care insurance, etc. etc. etc.

Anyway, the Democrats won't be able to get anywhere close to what they
want to get done. There is no guarantee that the slim majority in the
Senate means that all Democrats will toe the line making that side a
black hole for bills. As is always the case, the ones in majority will
now encounter the filibuster threat. And after that, there is the
president's veto, and for bills affecting the executive branch, there
is the presidential constitutional signing statement which could
effectively rewrite the bills. It will be the same gridlock until 2008
when it will come to a blaming contest of who is to blame for the lack
of progress. Unfortunately for the Democrats, gridlocks have been
unkind to them politically regardless of whether their party holds the
presidency or the legislature.

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