A Lame-Duck Congress Stuck on Stupid
By Ross Mackenzie
In his marvelous book "Decision Points," former President George W. Bush cites the comment of a general during a review of flagging American policy in Iraq. Bush quotes the general as saying, "Don't get stuck on stupid." U.S. strategy there, he said, needed changing to something different and more successful.
The Democratic Congress is now embarked on a lame-duck session that ought to be history's last.
This is the same Congress that gave the nation a program of socialized medicine it doesn't want and various "stimulus" measures that haven't worked -- spending measures that hardly have nudged the needle on unemployment or economic recovery.
It is the same feckless Congress, boasting lopsided Democratic margins, that during the regular session failed to pass a single appropriation bill for the fiscal year that began more than two months ago.
And it is the same Democratic Congress that declined to address the expiring Bush tax cuts before the November 2 electoral firestorm because its leaders, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, explained, the fate of the Bush tax cuts could be resolved more easily in the elections' aftermath.
Polls on election day and throughout November have been unequivocal: If there were national referendums, ObamaCare would be (in the words of one poll) "repealed and replaced" and the Bush tax cuts would be extended for all income brackets. But President Obama and the tin-eared congressional lame-duckers are already stuck on stupid.
Here, for instance, is The Wall Street Journal's Kimberley Strassel:
"According to (Nevadan Harry Reid), Senate Democrats are going to confirm judges, rewrite immigration law, extend unemployment insurance, fix the issue of gays in the military, reorganize the FDA, forestall tax hikes, re-fund the government, and ratify a nuclear arms treaty -- all in two, maybe three, weeks. This is the same institution that needs a month to rename a post office."
And if the Democrats cannot get their game together and extend the Bush tax cuts (in both houses they have ample majorities to do so), nearly 100 taxes will rise come January 1.
A MONTH ago, the nation's voters did not cast their ballots the way they did because (as the president said the day after) they were victims confused by Obamian rhetoric falling short of Ronald Reagan's "Great Communicator" model. Rather, they were angry about a federal administration taxing too much, spending too much, and too much an intruder in their lives.
That's angry. They understood his and the Democratic Congress' policies only too well. Less than a year after putting a Republican in the Kennedy Senate seat in Massachusetts, they put a Republican in Obama's Senate seat in Illinois.
If Obama was not on any ballot, public sentiment toward his policies definitely was. The voters gave a massive, emphatic thumbs-down. And in appraising the results, if Obama is not a good communicator, he is not a good listener, either. Or maybe he just doesn't get it.
He and Nancy and Harry are pressing on with making the Republicans' day. Let's see how the Democrats -- most notably Obama himself -- fare in 2012 campaigning on (a) higher taxes, (b) anti-growth tax policies, (c) even less stable exchange rates, (d) a $5 trillion annual budget $1 trillion in deficit, (e) open homosexuals in the military, and (f) an ObamaCare not kinder and gentler but meaner and tougher.
The Democratic lame-duckers ought to pass their appropriation bills and extend the Bush tax cuts across the board -- and get out of town.
Come January and the new year, when California and Illinois (etc.) may well follow Greece and Ireland (etc.) into bankruptcy, the augmented Republican cohort in Congress -- with a majority in the House -- will have its opportunity.
The Republicans might build on their anti-earmarks stance by regaining the public trust with pledges to -- e.g.: limited government, balanced budgets, capitalism and free markets, lower (and more understandable) taxes, term limits, an undiminished military, victory over islamofascism, secure borders, a stable dollar, and family first.
Republicans also might commit to measures requiring (1) that members of Congress be subject to every law now on the books or to every new law they pass. (2) That they may not participate in programs unavailable to the populace at large, such as the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan. And (3) that they may not exempt themselves from any federal program covering the general citizenry -- such as Social Security and Medicare.
Oh, and -- to prevent the next Congress from going lame and getting stuck on stupid -- as author and New York state's former lieutenant governor Betsy McCaughey suggests:
When John Boehner (becomes) speaker...in January, he should introduce a bill providing that Congress will not meet between the November 2012 election and January 3, 2013. That simple change in the law will put the voters back where they always belong: in charge.
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.