Sunday, November 20, 2011

Betty McCollum and the “Do Nothing Congress” Gambit

From her prepared remarks at a recent townhall, Betty started with
“These are common-sense initiatives that have received bi-partisan support in the past. Congress should pass this bill right away.”

I believe that she added to her prepared remarks a comment here about a “do nothing congress”,  a theme to be repeated later in the question and answer portion of the townhall with
“the white house announced three initiatives that do not need to slug through congress, in other words the president can just,  he doesn’t have to wait for congress to do its job, cause, we’re not seeing a lot of action right now up on the hill, I wish were seeing a lot more, I’m ready to do a lot more , but, the three initiatives..”

This is a theme that President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid have been pushing as the new political election strategy, a refrain from the days of Harry Truman.
Obama seems to have given up on working with them [Congress] and pivoted to Harry Truman’s tried-and-true strategy of blaming Congress for not doing anything at all.
Rhetorically, at least, the strategy is working. The president’s poll numbers have stabilized from their free fall and rebounded to the mid-40s, while Congress clocked in this month with an awful-even-for-these-guys 9 percent approval rating.

Truman’s situation was very similar to today's, with the addition that both houses had slim Republican majorities elected, for the only time in 1928 to 1953. Despite the attempt to label it as "do nothing" that Congress tried to get things done, but could only do it over the President's veto.

From the New Jersey Bio page
“In November 1946, the Democrats suffered a severe defeat in the congressional elections. The result was the 80th Congress, the first Republican-controlled Congress in 16 years. Bent on dismantling the New Deal, the 80th Congress moved to limit the power of labor, lower taxes, and ride their successes on to victory in the 1948 presidential election. Not surprisingly, Truman clashed with the 80th Congress over a number of issues, but the most important was Congress’s attempt to regulate and restrict organized labor. Truman vetoed the controversial 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, which banned the closed shop and restricted the power of organized labor in a number of other ways. The bill was passed over Truman’s veto, but his actions increased his standing with organized labor. Twice in 1947, the 80th Congress passed tax cuts only to watch Truman veto them with the claim that they favored the wealthy. In 1948 a third tax cut bill was passed over Truman’s veto.”

Staggering similarity. So how accurate is the “do nothing label” now?  Well in the case of the for the 112th Congress, Betty McCollum can only be referring to Harry Reid’s blocking of bills being presented and voted on in the Senate, starting with the Presidents Jobs Bill.
“What I am trying to do here today by requesting this vote on the president’s jobs bill ... is to honor the request of the president of the United States that we vote on it now,” McConnell said. “He has been asking us repeatedly over the last few weeks that we vote on it now.”
“I think the president of the United States, whose polices I generally do not support ... is entitled to know where the Senate stands on his proposal that he has been out talking about ... and suggesting that we are unwilling to vote on it," he said.
From the Weekly Standard
The Obama campaign sent out an email today asking supporters to urge Congress to at least vote on the president’s jobs bill almost immediately after Democratic majority leader Harry Reid blocked a vote on the bill in the Senate.
President Obama and Harry Reid seem to have crossed wires on that one, but it doesn’t seem to stop them from persistently blaming the Republicans for that and everything else as well.

At NewsBusters
As NewsBusters observed last month, the media, possibly with marching papers from the White House, have regularly been blaming all that ails the nation on "The Republican Congress" despite the fact Democrats control the Senate.

On ABC's This Week Sunday, George Will marvelously noted, "While [Barack Obama] was lecturing in Constitutional law, he missed that part of the Article I that says there’s a Senate also"

With polls showing the country's view of Congress at dismally low levels, Democrats and the White House believe they have to convince the public the GOP is responsible, and are therefore employing this tremendously disgraceful strategy.

But as Dick Durbin stated, they cannot even get their Democrat majority to vote for the Jobs Bill.
Durbin said. “There are some senators who are up for election who say ‘I’m never gonna vote for a tax increase while I’m up for election, even on the wealthiest people.’ So, we’re not gonna have 100 percent of Democratic senators.

However that is only the tip of the iceberg of Senate Democrat majority blocked legislation.
Senate sitting on 290 bills already passed by House; tension mounts
By J. Taylor Rushing - 02/23/10 06:00 AM ET Exasperated House Democratic leaders have compiled a list showing that they have passed 290 bills that have stalled in the Senate.
The list is the latest sign that Democrats in the lower chamber are frustrated with their Senate counterparts.
American Job Creators Suffer from Senate Failure to Act on “Forgotten 15” Jobs Bills
Nov 3, 2011 Washington- Today, Congressman John Boehner (R-OH) and Congressman Bob Gibbs (R-OH) released the following joint-column discussing the bipartisan “Forgotten 15” jobs bills passed by the House that are stuck in the Democratic-controlled Senate.  The "Forgotten 15" includes the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act (H.R. 872), a jobs bill authored by Rep. Gibbs that would stop the federal government from needlessly imposing costly and duplicative permitting requirements for pesticide use near waterways:

Here is a list of 15 jobs growth bills languishing at the doorstep of the Senate
President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have continuously blamed Republicans for blocking jobs bills. But this is simply not the case. The Republican-led House has passed more than 15 bills that will spur job growth while the Democratic-led Senate has failed to act.
132 American Economists Say GOP Jobs Strategy Better Than “Stimulus” for Job Creation in Both Short- & Long-Term Nov 8, 2011 Washington-
Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) today released a list of 132 American economists who believe the job creation strategy used in the House GOP Plan for America’s Job Creators will do more to boost private-sector job growth in America in both the near-term and long-term than the “stimulus” spending approach favored by President Obama.

Veterans Bills are also waiting for consideration
Veterans Legislation Passes House of Representatives – VOW Act Heads to the Senate
Oct 12, 2011: In a 418-6 vote, the House stands behinds veterans.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives passed six pieces of veteran legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support this week (H.R. 2433, as amended; H.R. 2074, as amended; H.R. 2302, as amended; H.R. 2349, as amended; H.R. 1263, as amended; and H.R. 1025).
“The House of Representatives sent a clear message that not only is support for our veterans strong, but that we stand together to end veteran unemployment,” stated Rep. Jeff Miller (FL-01), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “The VOW Act is the most comprehensive, thoughtful legislation that has been introduced to get our veterans out of unemployment lines and into meaningful jobs. We must also get government out of the way and ensure we have the right environment for the job market to flourish once again for all Americans.”
On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the latest unemployment figures, and while the national unemployment rate held steady, there was an alarming rise in the veteran unemployment rate – from 7.7% to 8.1% nationwide.

Thankfully it appears that some Veterans legislation may be making its way through Congress at this point
Nov 16, 2011 Congressional Democrats and Republicans rallied on a rare patch of common ground Wednesday, moving to pass a bill helping unemployed veterans and government contractors.
The liberal punditry loves to bash the Republicans for, well, just about anything, including the odious tactic of saying they want hurt the economy to hurt Obama.  In particular they claim:
In the deliberations of the "Super Committee," Republicans have been completely unwilling to give on the fundamental question of whether millionaires should be asked to pay to put America's economic house in order.

Well this belies the fact that as Rand Paul has stated, the Democrats basically abandoned the “Super Committee” after Republicans had made a substantive offer yielding on that exact point.
Sean Hannity Interviews Rand Paul On Democrats Walking Away From Super Committee

George Will: Obama Needs Supercommittee To Fail If He Wants To Run Against Do-Nothing Congress
November 6th, 2011 George Will claimed that if President Obama should be hoping that the Congressional supercommittee convened to come up with a bipartisan plan to balance the budget and deal with high unemployment will fail, because he can’t run against a do-nothing Congress in 2012 if the public sees Congress is actually doing something.

Republicans offer tax deal to break debt impasse; Democrats dismiss it
Congressional Republicans have for the first time retreated from their hard-line stance against new taxes, offering to raise federal tax collections by nearly $300 billion over the next decade as part of a plan to tame the national debt.
But Democrats rejected the offer Tuesday — along with the notion that Republicans had made a significant concession that could end the long-standing political impasse — leaving a special debt-reduction committee far from compromise with less than two weeks until its Thanksgiving deadline.
later in the article the author says:
Other Democrats challenged the notion that Republicans had made any major concessions. Lowering the top rate from 35 percent to 28 percent would eat up most of the extra revenue generated by limiting itemized deductions, they said, leaving very little savings to reduce future borrowing.

Which basically leads to the main conservative point, stop the spending, stop the borrowing.  So while Betty McCollum’s charge that the Congress, in the sense of the Senate, isn’t doing much is not wholly inaccurate, the implication that its Republicans is.  It would be interesting to see Betty McCollum not follow ardently in the path laid out by Obama and Pelosi, and state that the blockage is due to her fellow Democrats.  She claims she want to do more, but her statements (in video) of solidarity with Obama to bypass the Constitutional path, imply that it is more political attack than creation of accomplishments.

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