Democrats Play, Uh, Softball

Here’s the headline that ran just a while ago on The Hill:

Left revolts over funding bill

In case you missed it, there has been talk of a “deal” (known now as “CRomnibus”) between Republicans and Democrats to keep the government, or most of it anyway, running through September of next year (the Homeland Security department only gets funded through February, which is how Republicans have initially decided to dope-slap President Obama for treating undocumented immigrants like people).

The deal is around 1600 pages long. I just wonder how many conservatives in Congress, especially those who criticized Democrats for not reading the entire Affordable Care Act, have read this one? In any case, the deal would avert a government shutdown this week, a shutdown that Republicans with brains want to avert.

It is unclear to me why Democrats would make such a deal without getting something substantial for it. Just keeping the government running is, of course, something worth fighting for, but it hardly amounts to exploiting the advantage that Democrats have: Republicans, without Democratic help, cannot pass through the House any reasonable spending bill, what with that dictator in the White’s House stirring up the crazies in Boehner’s caucus with his executive action on immigration reform.

So, as details of the deal have come to light, more thoughtful members of the Democratic Party, led by Elizabeth Warren in the Senate and Nancy Pelosi in the House, are saying no thanks. If Republicans want to shut the government down again by making demands that no Democrat should support at this point, then let them shut it down. People who voted for Republicans last month should get an early taste of what they voted for. Why is it that our side just doesn’t know how to play hard-ball politics?

Among the things in the tentative agreement that have upset Democrats the most seem to be these two:

1. An attack on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill. From The Hill article:

Among the host of provisions included in the $1.1 trillion funding measure is one that would partially repeal a Dodd-Frank rule aimed at ensuring risky derivatives trading happens away from banks that have a government safety net.

Republicans have been after Dodd-Frank since before it became law. It appears that they won’t stop until things are exactly the way they were prior to the financial crisis because, after all, that wasn’t a big deal, right?

2. Killing any semblance of restraint when it comes to rich people purchasing elections. From HuffPo:

The omnibus bill includes a provision (on page 1,599) to create three separate funds within the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee. Each fund would be allowed to accept $97,200 from just one donor per year. If this change becomes law, it would mean that a single donor could give up to $324,000 per year, or $648,000 for a two-year election cycle, to finance the party’s operations.

The change would effectively obliterate campaign contribution limits to the parties, while eviscerating the limits placed by the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law on how much a political candidate can seek from a donor. The current maximum a donor can give to a national party committee is $32,400 per year, plus an additional $32,400 per year to a separate fund to be used only in case of an election recount. 

That provision would make a worser situation worser-er.

There are other bad things in the deal:

Butting into the internal affairs of the District of Columbia—voters approved an initiative that would have legalized pot—because, apparently, ain’t no white conservative gonna allow the District’s black folks a little legal up time.

A not-so-subtle attack on Michelle Obama and her efforts to get schools to serve more nutritious food to kids. Republicans won’t rest until everyone looks like Newt Gingrich.

♦ Allowing truckers to do more sleeping while driving. Anyone who has been on an Interstate highway and who has witnessed weary truck drivers weaving in and out of their lanes should appreciate this gift to the trucking industry.

Cutting retiree benefits for some 10 million folks. Because, who needs money when you’re retired?

♦ Trimming the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by another $60 million. As The Washington Post pointed out,

The agency’s budget has been slashed by $2.2 billion, or 21 percent, since fiscal 2010, according to GOP aides. The cuts mean that EPA will have to reduce its staffing to the lowest levels since 1989.

They won’t stop, people, until EPA staffing is reduced to 1889 levels.

Slashing the budget of the IRS by almost $350 million. How stupid is it to cut funding for the one agency that collects the money that, uh, funds the government? Republicans, of course, are still mad at the IRS for maliciously targeting right-wingers, which, of course, didn’t happen. But, as Kevin Drum points out, slashing the budget of the IRS “means fewer audits of corporations and rich people. Any other questions?”

Nope. No more questions.


1 Comment

  1. ansonburlingame

     /  December 11, 2014


    Good to get off race for a moment and back to hard ball politics.

    I love the attempt to spin this one by calling it another GOP shutdown of the government. Ha. If the bill fails to pass it will be because of Dem resistance to “little things” hardly debated to great extent in the public eye, today. It nit picks against Dodd Frank, just as an example. Just wait and you may see a bill from a GOP Congress to eliminate Dodd Frank, and then be vetoed by the President. Then in 2016 we the people get to decide on that and other big issues.

    But the big point for this bill is that the issues legislated therein were NEGOTIATED between high level Dems and GOPers, but not the rank and file of either party. I have yet to watch the news today but will do so this evening and see what passes or does not pass and if in fact at midnight the Federal Government once again is “shutdown”. One of the current “talking points” I have heard from high level Dem Senators is “if you don’t like this bill you should see what we negotiated out of it, behind the scenes.” I suspect they are correct and we will see “them” again come up from the looming GOP majority. THEN you will really have things to write, scream, about. And I may join in support on some of them, like anti-pot attempts in DC. Let the f….. PEOPLE decide, state by state on that point for crying out loud.

    Then it will be a question of who did it (shutdown) this time!!! I point MY finger to the left on this occassion.



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