Poor Congress. Apparently after eight years of lying fallow, some are finding the idea of actually being required to do their jobs a bit of a shock:
Now, there are all kinds of reasons to believe Congress will falter when asked to rise to the occasion. There are Republican demands that all bills require super-majorities to pass. There are conservative Democrats who aren't comfortable passing a popular progressive agenda. The House and Senate are often on different pages. Too often, too many Democratic senators embrace "fecklessness" and "parochialism."
The NYT's Carl Hulse has an interesting item today on Congress struggling as an institution. Apparently, the White House keeps looking to lawmakers to keep up with the president's ambitious agenda and Congress is trying to "shake the rust from its legislative machinery and overcome the powerful inertia that has gripped it in recent years."
Lawmakers, senior staff members and other experts agree that a combination of divided government, thin majorities, the running battle for Congressional control and an emphasis on national security caused a decline in the old-school legislative give-and-take that will be required to deliver major health, energy and education measures to President Obama.
"We have been miniaturized," said Senator Olympia J. Snowe, a moderate Republican from Maine and a veteran of health care negotiations. "You have three talking points on a card. We are going to have to be taught and relearn the process, crack the notebooks."
Congress has not even managed to produce its basic spending bills on time in recent years and has exhausted considerable energy dealing with recurring tax and Medicare snags. Big bills have been few and far between -- the 2003 Medicare drug plan and a 2007 energy law are examples -- as lawmakers nibbled around the edges of problems.
But if we're looking for excuses, the notion that lawmakers "aren't used to working so much" shouldn't be one of them.
Unfuckingbelieveable. They want to claim they've forgotten how to write legislation, which is their fucking job. They apparently let themselves be completely neutered. And Snowe's comments about having to relearn the process are particularly telling. They shouldn't have to crack notebooks. They should already know how to do this shit.
In possibly related news, Newt Gingrich's irony meter appears to be on the fritz:
It’s ironic that Gingrich is calling Obama’s foreign policy a “fantasy,” given that just last week, he contrived an imaginary war plan in response to North Korea’s planned missile launch.
On the heels of a North Korean missile test last night, President Obama said in a speech today in Prague that he wants to put forth an agenda “to seek the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.” “This goal will not be reached quickly — perhaps not in my lifetime,” he said. “It will take patience and persistence.”
When Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace asked Newt Gingrich about Obama’s speech the morning, Gingrich linked Obama’s goal to what he called former President Carter’s “fantasy view of the world”:GINGRICH: The president’s in a world where Hamas is firing missiles every day into Israel, Iran is building nuclear weapons, and the North Koreans today during — basically during his speech fired a missile, and he has some wonderful fantasy idea that we’re going to have a great meeting next year. […] I just think that it’s very dangerous to have a fantasy foreign policy, and it can get you in enormous trouble.
If you'll recall, he based his doom and gloom scenario, complete with lasers, on a fiction novel. What a spectacular dumbfuck. This is the same man who says Cons may have to start a third party:
"If the Republicans can't break out of being the right wing party of big government, then I think you would see a third party movement in 2012," Newt Gingrich said during a Wednesday speech in Missouri.
Speaking on Fox News Sunday, the former Speaker of the House expanded on why conservatives might turn away from the Republican Party. "Republicans need to understand that there's a country which did not like the big spending of the last administration, didn't like the interventionist policies of the last administration and the country at large would like to see a genuine alternative to the Obama strategy of basical trying to run the entire economy from the white house and basically trying to increase government, I think, by 36% this year, which is the largest single increase outside of war in American history," said Gingrich.
A country, Newt? You're saying that these dipshit Cons are actually their own separate country? I don't recall a recent secession, although there's been plenty of right-wing blather about revolution and so forth.
There's also a few other facts he may want to keep in mind:
The right wing stuck with that mess Bush all the way to the bitter end and didn't seem to be agitated at all about his big spending ways which were obvious from the first few months of his presidency when he started passing out thousand dollar bills to his millionaire friends. Here's the beginning of Bush's slide in the polls right after the 2004 election, from Gallup:
There have been double-digit decreases in Bush approval ratings among pure independents (those who are independent and do not "lean" toward either party) and moderate and liberal Republicans. Pure independents' support has fallen from 42% to 28%, while moderate and liberal Republicans' support has dropped from 83% to 69%.
Conservative Republicans remain overwhelmingly likely to approve of Bush, but his support among this group has fallen below 90% in the past 11 months.
Here's where he ended up in November of 2008:Views of President Bush’s popularity are highly partisan. Only 6% of Democrats approve [and 18% of Independents] of the job he has done as president, while 57% of Republicans approve.
That 57% were the conservatives. It was the moderates Bush lost and contrary to Newties wet dream, they haven't yet been brainwashed into believing that Obama is the second coming of Hugo Chavez. This "country" of Bush and Obama hating fiscal conservatives that he fantasizes about, can fit into his corner office at AEI.
Not much of a country he's got there, now, is it?
A pretty pathetic one, too, considering the inhabitants:
For the better part of the last couple of months, Republicans on the Hill have experimented with various economic talking points, but they always seem to come back to an old standby: Democratic plans look European.
I've never fully understood why this became a GOP favorite. Do most Americans recoil at the thought of some European nightmare? As Matt Yglesias noted in February, after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted the stimulus plan would "turn America into Western Europe" if passed, "[I]t strikes me as odd that conservatives seem so convinced that a set of countries whose populations are healthier and longer-lived, and where dramatically fewer children grow up in poverty, is somehow obviously a dystopian nightmare."
Yesterday, Republicans went a little further, arguing that the Obama administration's agenda isn't just reminiscent of Europe, it's "worse" than Europe.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) ... the top Republican on the Budget Committee told The Hill that he owes an apology to Europe for insulting them over the past few weeks. [...]
"We owe them an apology because our budget is worse than theirs," Ryan told The Hill, referring to the Democrats' budget measure. "To suggest that we're turning our budget into a European kind of a budget is unfair ... it's unfair to Europe."
It's difficult to offer a substantive critique of Ryan's criticism, since I have no idea what he thinks is so awful about "their" "budget." (Europe is a continent; it doesn't have a "budget.") It's not at all clear what Ryan finds so distasteful about Europe anyway -- and why Americans are necessarily supposed to be repelled by the very idea of better health care and more public investment.
All I can say is, if any serious writer had created polticians like these as characters, the book would've read as an absurdist parody of reality. The fact that these fucktards actually say this shit in really real life is an embarrassment to America.