Dec. 4, 2009
When Republicans ran Washington, Democrats regularly complained that they were terrible managers. They argued that because of Republican incompetence, deficits were high, deadlines were missed, money was wasted, and rules were ignored. It called to mind PJ O’Rourke’s famous quote about Republicans: The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it.
House Democrats, increasingly concerned that there may be no other way to clear spending measures and extend expiring programs by the end of the month, are nearly ready to resort to a multibill omnibus package.
The legislative traffic jam is particularly bad this year because of the Senate’s lagging health care debate, which may take weeks to untangle, preventing that chamber from moving quickly on year-end business.
At the top of the Democratic majority’s must-do list are the seven remaining fiscal 2010 appropriations bills. One idea under serious consideration, according to House Democratic aides, is moving those bills in a single package that would carry other items, including an increase in the debt limit, a one-year “fix” to prevent a cut in Medicare payments to physicians and a short-term extension of expiring provisions of the anti-terrorism law known as the Patriot Act.
Measures aimed at jolting the sluggish economy could also hitch a ride.
Such a package would have a price tag of more than $1 trillion, a point Republicans would be sure to make repeatedly…
Pivoting from health care to another bill will be difficult, and advancing them over GOP resistance will require Democrats to round up 60 votes to close off debate — and even setting up such votes can take days of floor time.
Senate Democrats met Wednesday to discuss how to accelerate action on health care and bring the bill to a vote by the end of the year. But at day’s end it remained unclear how successful they will be…
A particularly thorny issue for Democrats is what to do with legislation to increase the $12.1 trillion debt limit, which could be breached if it is not boosted over the next several weeks.
At this point, the plan is to include it in a package of bills rather than have the legislation considered on its own; the latter situation would give Republicans a better platform to make a political issue of government spending.
Democrats have control of the White House, a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and an overwhelming majority in the House. Republicans have no ability to influence the process of governing. Yet it is the most basic functions – passing spending bills, managing the debt limit, and passing bills that are approved every year – that are falling by the wayside.
If anything, the appropriations process is easier than in past years, because Democrats added $787 billion to federal spending before the process began. That move eliminated all the ‘tough decisions’ by raining money down on most every federal program.
And now the Democrats’ solution is to pile everything into one (or two) large spending bills. In all likelihood they’ll turn to this bill in the waning days before Christmas, when few Americans are paying attention. The debt limit will be lifted to $13 trillion or so, billions will be added to the deficit to pay off the AMA for their support of a health care overhaul, and all sort of controversial bills will be passed under the cover of darkness, while the American people are looking the other way.
Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and the rest of the Democratic leadership are showing their incompetence.