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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Social Conservatives 'Mad As Hell' And Congress Gets An 'F'

If you are anything like me (and the fact that you are coming here and reading this blog usually means that you are, at least, a little like me) then you have been watching the GOP primary and seeing the front-runners go up and down like yo-yos. Not a very promising start to the 2008 campaign season, but at least it is entertaining.

That is where the positive spin ends. The GOP has a real problem, one that it has ignored for far too long. Paul Edwards' latest column explains what this problem is. There is a schism within the ranks of the GOP and no one seems willing to admit it or to do anything about it. But really, what can be done?

We are stuck between giving up our priciples in order to maintain a good economic status or giving up our fiscal beliefs in order to see our social ideas have a chance. Why can't we have both?

Edwards writes:

The Republican establishment has looked down its nose at social conservatives far too long, tolerating us because they need our votes. But now the tables are turned. The grass roots are looking up at the establishment with the will of a Lech Walesa, demanding that fiscal issues take a back seat to moral issues for a change. It’s long past time for the moral and social issues of our times to be given more than just lip service. It’s now time for our fiscal policies to be informed by our social policies rather than sacrificing our morality to our economic standing in the world.

Don’t expect the Republican establishment to take this lying down. The New Media tanks are already rolling in to suppress the revolt.

So, which candidate is going to take advantage of this? I don't know. I just know that whomever follows the philosophies of the Republican Party most closely should win:

I'm a Republican Because...

I BELIEVE the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored.

I BELIEVE in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.

I BELIEVE free enterprise and encouraging individual initiative have brought this nation opportunity, economic growth and prosperity.

I BELIEVE government must practice fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they earn.

I BELIEVE the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations, and that the best government is that which governs least.

I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.

I BELIEVE Americans must retain the principles that have made us strong while developing new and innovative ideas to meet the challenges of changing times.

I BELIEVE Americans value and should preserve our national strength and pride while working to extend peace, freedom and human rights throughout the world.

FINALLY, I believe the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating these ideals into positive and successful principles of government.

You can access Mr. Edwards' complete column on-line here:

Social Conservatives Are “Mad As Hell”
Paul Edwards
December 25, 2007

And now that the end of the year is close at hand, we can look back at what our Democrat controlled Congress has done and effectively grade them.

Here is what Jennifer Rubin has to say over at Human Events Online:

The Democrats in Congress, despite a year in the majority and facing a president whose approval ratings are historically low, have been spectacularly unsuccessful in achieving items both small and large on their agenda. A combination of overreaching and incompetence on their part and savvy prevent defense by President Bush and Congressional Republicans has spared the country untold grief.

Most striking was the Democrats utter failure to live up to the key promise of their 2006 campaign: “ending the war in Iraq.” First, the Senate unanimously confirmed General Petreaus (who had committed to a Surge strategy) by an 81-0 vote in late January. Despite more than 60 votes to withdrawal or limit U.S. forces in Iraq, Democrats could not win a veto proof majority to begin retreat in Iraq. This included a 108-day fight over the Defense Department Supplemental spending bill. Although the demise of the “Surge” policy was widely anticipated in September, testimony by General Petreaus and Ambassador Croker shifted the tide -- with help from a backlash over the ludicrous and outlandish MoveOn.org attack on General Petreaus -- and drowned out Democrats demands that U.S. forces close up shop.


Democrats also failed on other priorities held dear: federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, elimination of secret ballots for union elections, hate crime legislation protecting homosexuals (tucked into a defense authorization bill), voting rights for the District of Columbia, and government price setting for Medicare drugs. Even the pettiest of goals --working five days a week -- could not be achieved. On the SCHIP -- the Dems’ plan for a first middle-class entitlement program -- President Bush and Congressional Republican stared down the Democrats’ threats to expand this poverty program to millions of middle class Americans, not just the “children” that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid paraded before the cameras.

On immigration after the Kennedy-McCain immigration bill failed Democrats could not even achieve victory on a more limited measure --yes, for the “children” -- the DREAM Act. They likewise failed to pass a separate immigration bill for agriculture. Although Democrats swore that hard line Republican views on immigration were a losing proposition and contributed to GOP losses in 2006, they had no stomach after the immigration fight for any more immigration “reform.” (“Blue Dog” Democrat Heath Shuler, who apparently learned a different lesson, did introduce an enforcement only measure which quickly gathered over a hundred co-sponsors.)


Democrats got an energy bill, but not the one they envisioned. In June and again this month Republicans refused to agree to a bill that would have resulted in millions in new taxes for energy companies. Republican also achieved outright wins: a seven year extension of the internet tax ban and utter rejection of Charlie Rangel’s “mother of all tax bills” (which never received so much as a committee vote) that would have “solved” the alternative minimum tax issue by raising billions in new taxes. Democrats cherished “Pay Go” (their self imposed rule that all tax reductions must be “paid for”) just went.

And why did all of this happen?

First, the Democrats badly misinterpreted the results of the 2006 election. Had the vast majority of the country wanted amnesty, defeat in Iraq, socialized medicine and the like, the elected representatives in Congress on both sides of the aisle would have felt the heat and voted accordingly. Second, divided government may be a powerful argument for the GOP presidential nominee. If it were not for the presidential veto -- actual or threatened -- much of the Democratic agenda could well have slipped through. The GOP nominee will be greatly aided by a simple argument: “Do you want Nancy and Harry to have their way?” Finally, Republicans do best when they do not “split the baby” (e.g. give Rangel half of his tax increases) but instead say “no” and force Democrats to vote on measures unpalatable to most voters. In that regard, 2006 may have made 2008 a far easier year -- provided Republicans stick to their guns for one more year.

You can access Jennifer's complete column on-line here:

Democrats' 2007 Report Card
Jennifer Rubin
Human Events Online
December 21, 2007

And more evidence of a deserved 'F' comes from the Associated Press:

President Bush, successful in forcing the Democratic Congress to bend to his will, complained Thursday that lawmakers had wasted time and taxpayers' money. His aggressive stand set a confrontational tone for Bush's final year in the White House.

Bush used a year-end news conference to scold lawmakers for stuffing 9,800 special-interest projects into a $550 billion spending measure. He directed his budget director to explore how to erase what Bush considers wasteful spending.

What began as a troubling year for Bush, facing a new, energetic Democratic Congress, ended in triumph for the president as frustrated Democrats nursed their losses. Democrats failed in their No. 1 objective to stop the war in Iraq and bowed to Bush and his veto threats on tax policies, energy legislation, children's health insurance and general spending.

I seem to recall the Dems claiming back in 2004 and later on that President Bush was "stupid" or "dumb" or "not intelligent enough" for the Presidency.

Well, maybe someone should add up the collective IQs of the Dems in Congress and compare it to the IQ of President Bush, and then answer why the Dems lost so many intellectual fights.

You can access the complete article on-line here:

Bush Says Congress Wasting Time, Money
Terrence Hunt
Associated Press via GOPUSA.com
December 21, 2007


PGEagle said...

Here's a more balanced view - I can't wait to see if it clears conservative "editing":


Congress in '07 wasn't so bad, experts say

By NOELLE STRAUB - IR Washington Bureau - 12/30/07
WASHINGTON - Despite a general public perception that Congress failed to get much done this year, 2007 actually ranks as a fairly productive legislative session, congressional scholars say.

The gains were overshadowed by stalemate on Iraq war policy and by the bickering and division often on display in Washington, they said.

This year's session was "definitely not a 'do-nothing' Congress," said congressional expert Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

In fact, the new Democratic Congress was more active than its predecessor looking at the amount of time in session, committee meetings, oversight of the executive branch, votes and measures passed, he said.

"In terms of new laws enacted, it compares favorably with the 104th Republican Congress which took office following the 1994 elections," he said. "The latter failed to enact all but one provision of the Contract With America during its first year. By contrast, most of the items on the Democratic new direction agenda found their way into law."

But the Democrats' promise and failure to change course on Iraq eclipsed all their other gains, Mann added. President Bush kept Republicans on his side by launching the surge strategy and suggesting he would reduce troop levels after it worked, he said.

"Given their narrow majorities in Congress and facing a president with little interest in negotiating with them, the Democrats did a respectable job in changing the agenda, aggressively overseeing the executive, and harvesting a modest but significant set of new laws," he said.

Congress's record this year "looked worse than it was," said another congressional expert, Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute. He gives the 2007 session a passing record for legislative accomplishments.

Although the Brookings Institution is seen as moderate to left-leaning and AEI as conservative, Mann and Ornstein have long been widely respected as nonpartisan congressional experts. They each have written books and numerous scholarly articles, serve as commentators for a variety of media and lecture on American politics and policy at home and abroad.

Although voters many not necessarily notice, Ornstein said, there was a very significant change in oversight.

"We saw a Congress that went from being completely supine, turning a blind eye to any abuses out there by the executive branch to one that's been extraordinarily active on that front," he said.

He noted that Congress raised the minimum wage, made a significant change to college loan programs, implemented recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission and raised fuel efficiency standards.

But Congress didn't reach success on a number of areas where there's a strong public demand, including economic security and Iraq, he said.

"Also the image that people would get out of Washington," he said, "was far more bickering and division than any sense someone was trying to transcend differences and trying to achieve for the good of the nation."

The blame for that can be spread widely, Ornstein said. The Democrats were so eager to pass certain legislation as promised within the first 100 hours of retaking Congress that they put the regular processes aside, starting off on bad footing, he said. Republicans also exploited every opening and sometimes tried to embarrass the Democrats with "gotcha" amendments, he said.

In the fairly evenly divided Senate, Republicans used filibusters and objections more than ever seen before on routine issues, he said. The GOP remained united but also wanted to "throw molasses in the road" to make Democrats look bad, he said.

Bush started the year with the expectation of making compromises, Ornstein said. But when a potential compromise on his No. 1 priority of immigration failed in early summer, he added, the president abandoned that strategy and began threatening vetoes of all legislation he didn't like.

And the Democratic Party was "so obsessed with doing something about the war that they took their eye off the other balls for many months," he said. With American troops in the field, who could be endangered by a cut in funding, and a commander-in-chief determined to stay the course, "there's no way the legislature is going to change the policy," he said.

"Democrats spent time and energy trying to find a way to do something that couldn't be done," he said.

As for 2008, Ornstein predicted "it's likely to be more of the same than anything else." Democrats have a chance to regroup now, and some Republicans may become more nervous about standing with an unpopular president as the election approaches, he said. But he doesn't see much chance of Bush changing course.

"It's hard to imagine things will alter dramatically in the course of a year," he said. "But things that don't go through the first year (of a congressional session) often go through the second."

Because of congressional action, the minimum wage rose 70 cents to $5.85 an hour this summer, the first increase in a decade, and will increase 70 cents each summer up to $7.25 an hour in 2009. Democrats attached the increase, along with billions of dollars in tax breaks for small businesses, to a must-pass Iraq war spending bill.

Congress also passed an energy bill that will raise fuel efficiency standards to an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 and also will greatly increase production of biofuels. But to get those measures through, Democrats had to drop a major provision requiring utilities to produce 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources and a nearly $22 billion tax package that would have extended existing renewable incentives and rolled back nearly $14 billion in tax breaks for large oil companies.

Instead of passing each of the 12 separate spending bills, Congress rolled 11 of them into one giant $555 billion measure that Bush signed. But that was more than in 2006, when Congress didn't pass spending measures and instead left the work to this session, which extended the previous year's levels.

Congress approved a one-year fix to keep the Alternative Minimum Tax from hitting millions more families, but passed it so late that more than 3 million people will have to wait until February to get their tax refunds.

Although Congress passed an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, Bush vetoed it. Before adjourning for the year, lawmakers passed an extension keeping the program running through March 2009. House Democrats will try again to overcome the veto after they return in January but are expected to fail. Negotiations on a longer-term compromise will continue.

Congress faces a host of other issues in 2008. The House and Senate each passed a version of the Farm Bill, but those two versions must still be reconciled. The final bill likely will continue the current farm payment programs and tighten subsidy eligibility requirements somewhat, although Bush believes not far enough. He has also threatened a veto because he does not like the revenue measures used to pay for the increased spending.

Action also is expected to renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is set to expire early next year. A dispute remains over whether to give retroactive immunity to companies that cooperated with the government's warrantless wiretapping program.

Bills addressing global climate change also have been working their way through committees, although the final outcome remains uncertain. The debate over Iraq war spending will continue, and Democrats have said they are putting together an economic stimulus package.

84rules said...

Well, PGEagle, as you can see, I published your comment in toti as you presented it. I am not afraid of showing the other side of the argument as most liberals are afraid of doing.

I will also note that the author of this article was very vague on specific issues, even to the point of not presenting all the facts about why certain pieces of legislation failed nor all the facts as to what the likely effect of those pieces of legislation would have been had they succeeded.

Just a little bit of research will turn up lots of information regarding those issues.