They Are Back and Speechifying

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boxers.jpgCongress is back in session. Oh, how the speeches are flowing on C-Span 1 and 2. Some of it sounds wonderful. All of it sounds as deeply partisan as the Grand Canyon. But, there are clues that what is to come of it all, may have some real benefit for the American people and their future. Here are some positive things I am hearing in all that 'speechifying'.

Sen. James Inhofe defended budget bloating earmarks today on the Senate floor, but, that is not as bad as it sounds. Sen. Inhofe, who has debated Sen. Tom Coburn on the earmarks issue, (Politico), today offered up the earmark reforms (PDF) championed the non-partisan organization Public Citizen. Sen. Tom Coburn wants to end earmarks, altogether, at least in rhetoric. Both Senators have records of being addicted to earmark spending for various political purposes.

In concert, Senate minority leader McConnell said today,

There is simply no doubt that the abuse of this practice [earmarks] has caused Americans to view it as a symbol of the waste and out-of-control spending that every Republican in Washington is determined to fight. ... Unless people like me show the American people they are willing to follow through on their small or even symbolic things we risk losing them on the broader arguments to cut spending and rein in government.
Sen. McConnell was referencing a a moratorium on earmark spending (adding federal spending to bills that benefit Congress persons popularity in their home district, but which have nothing to do with the bill to which they are attached, e.g. turtle bridge under highway attached to a defense appropriations bill).

Sen. McConnell's comments follow those Sen. Jim DeMint, calling on the Republicans to follow in the footsteps of the House GOP by adopting a rule barring conference members from requesting earmarks. Last week, President Obama signaled a willingness to work with Senate Republicans on this issue.

It would appear many if not most of America's federal representatives are taking the anti-incumbent movement's common concerns, to heart.

Sen. Ron Wyden, today provided a lengthy oratory calling for a flat tax to make the U.S. income tax code simpler, flatter and fairer. American taxpayers, he says, deserve an understandable, equitable system that provides real tax relief to the middle-class, treats work and wealth equally, and begins to reduce the deficit. Wyden's main argument today on the Senate floor was that a flat tax reform can create up to 2 million jobs, dramatically lower the cost of tax computation and collection, and simplify the the process for all Americans. One can only hope that tax reform will be an issue taken up by the House and Senate in the year to come. Its time is long overdue.

The Washington Post reports: Some Democrats, many of whom will be on the ballot in 2012, reject the view that the Senate must move at a glacial pace, that only its most senior members get to determine the policy agenda, and that bipartisanship has outlived its usefulness.

"In the last election, voters said, 'Please work together.' I think they're going to move next to profanities," said Sen. Mark Udall (Colo.), a member of the Class of 2008.

The Post says Democratic upstarts such as Mark Udall, his cousin Tom Udall (N.M.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Mark Warner (Va.) are expected to wage a fresh campaign to change Senate operating procedures and give first-term lawmakers a greater say over Democratic strategy and how the party communicates with voters.

This could potentially bring the Senate closer to the issues that voters are most concerned about by giving Freshman and junior Senators, newly elected by the people, a more powerful role in shaping the Senate's policy agenda.

While observing these potentially positive Congressional reactions to November 2nd's election results, there were also a host of observations of politics as usual. The GOP is being pulled further to the conservative right by organizations like Americans for Prosperity warning Republicans they would be next to be targeted as incumbents if they don't do right wing conservative voter's bidding. If successful, these efforts will only serve to widen the political divide between the Republican House and Democratic Senate and White House, making bi-partisanship results even more difficult, if not impossible.

Democrats are mulling over a shake up of operational strategy to bring their public relations and communications operations into concert with their legislative agenda, to do a better job of selling it. Sen. Chuck Schumer is to head up this effort. This sounds to me like Democrats adopting some of the election strategy used by Republicans over the last 2 years, which means politics before governing as their priority list.

My crystal ball never worked as promised, but, I don't need one to know that pessimism and cynicism are not parents of solutions and progress. It is extremely disheartening to note that health care cost reform, the single greatest debt buster going forward, for the American people and federal government, is not the first and foremost item on Republican's and Democrat's agenda going forward.

Medicare and health care cost reform, is however, the 50 ton whale thrashing about our nation's economic future. Moving that whale back out to sea will require nothing less than a herculean effort at political reform which distances wealthy special interests from our representatives, freeing our politicians to act in the best interests of America's future. Earmark reform, and honest political party response to the anti-incumbent movement, may well be the first signs that such political reform may be forthcoming.

I, therefore, reserve the right to remain optimistic. Speechifying ain't governing, however. If that optimism be disappointed, our right to vote out incumbents remains intact and ready to exercise, again.

(This article was previously published at Vote Out Incumbents Democracy.)

2 Comments

this is very true they all lie under there breath. all the people in polotics lie about everything all there worryed about is themselves. they just wanna make a name for themselves.

Michael, a politician should be the last place a person goes to seek any truth, at all. Appreciate your comments.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on November 15, 2010 7:37 PM.

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