One of the great things about this country is the fact that we have a bloodless revolution every few years. They are called elections. This year was a bit more of a revolution than usual and some of our politicians are finding out the hard way that elections have consequences. The consequences of the November 2010 elections -- and one might add the November 2009 elections in New Jersey and Virginia and the January 2010 special Senate election in Massachusetts -- became clear as the snow on the Capitol last week.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid abruptly withdrew the 1,924-page omnibus spending bill he had submitted two days before. Reid had hoped that the $8 billion worth of earmarks, including some for Republicans, would provide the Republican votes to pass a bill that financed Obamacare and otherwise furthered Democratic policy goals well into the next calendar year. Unfortunately for Harry, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was able to persuade Republican appropriators not to swallow the bait. Democrats might have gotten their pet provisions through if they had submitted and passed appropriations bills earlier in the year, but having failed to follow regular legislative order, they were caught defying the will of the voters so clearly expressed in November. Reid's ploy collapsed.
Then there was Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was forced to watch gloomily as her Democrats failed to rally majorities to alter -- and probably sidetrack -- the deal reached between Barack Obama and Republican congressional leaders extending the Bush tax cuts for two years. Instead, the House voted 277-148 for a measure that the Senate had passed 81-19 earlier in the week. A clear victory for the couple of million people who in some way, shape or form took part in the protests symbolized by but not limited to the tea party movement.
Eleven months ago, after the Massachusetts Senate election, I was convinced that Democrats could not jam their health care bill through because voters had so clearly demanded they not do so. I was wrong and Pelosi proved more determined and resourceful than I had imagined, and found enough House Democrats who were willing to risk electoral defeat to achieve what Democrats proclaimed was a historic accomplishment. Pelosi and Barack Obama predicted that Obamacare would become more popular as voters learned more about it. Those predictions were based on the theory that in times of economic distress, Americans would be more supportive of or amenable to big government policies. That theory has been disproved about as conclusively as any theory can be in the real world, and most of the Democrats who provided the key votes for Obamacare were defeated on Election Day.
Democratic congressional leaders did take note of the unpopularity of their policies when they chose not to pass budget resolutions last spring. Presumably they did so because they would have had a hard time rounding up the votes for the high spending and large deficits that would have ensued. But had the House and Senate passed a budget resolution, Democrats might have been able to pass their preferred tax policy, raising taxes on high earners, under the budget reconciliation process. So the House vote Thursday night was a delayed consequence of the public's long-apparent rejection of their policies.
Obama told Joe the Plumber that he wanted to "spread the wealth around." November's vote, presaged by more than a year of polls, was, as political scientist James Ceasar has written, "the Great Repudiation" of that policy. Republicans, having succeeded in holding down tax rates, clearly have a mandate to hack away at spending, and to defund and derail Obamacare, which is at or near new lows in the ABC/Washington Post and Rasmussen polls.
How effectively the 112th Congress will respond is unclear. But the outgoing 111th Congress, despite its big Democratic majorities, responded pretty clearly last week.
Special Note: If you have been reading my blogs these past few months you have heard me repeatedly warn that the Obama Administration, having failed to pass laws through Congress would now do an end run around them and pass thier laws through regulation instead of legislation. Charles Krauthammer has written an excellent article on that very subject. I urge you to go to this link and read it! Just click here.
One of my favorite quotes from 2010:
Live Long and Prosper....