3/19/2005

Congress and the long haul

From Will Pitt of TruthOut, a great summary of the issues to start chalking up against the Repugs in preparation for the midterm elections and beyond:
It is going to take me a while to get over the fact that the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve got cashiered because of three Democratic Senators, but then again, it has been a long five years with much blood and tears under the bridge, and my coping skills are now formidable. It is time to talk about the future of Congress. First of all, a discussion must be started about exactly who and what we are dealing with. Say what you will about the GOP majority and their allies in the White House, and there is much to say, but one thing cannot be denied: These folks have mastered the art of distraction and implementation. Consider the last month or so. Bush and his congressional allies jumped up and started waving their arms and shouting, “Look over here! We’re going to privatize Social Security! Look, we’re gonna do it! Here it comes! You can’t stop us!” The Democrats and their activist allies got all gamed up to fight the SS privatization push, and effectively beat the idea to death. Here’s the thing: I believe Bush and his crew knew their SS plan was DOA weeks ago, but kept pushing it to distract their opponents from a bunch of other stuff that got rammed through as if it were on greased skids. While everyone was running around shouting about Social Security, the boys in the back room managed to pass: a) A Bankruptcy Bill that was basically a huge kiss on the lips to credit card companies; b) A Gun Manufacturers Shield Law that bars anyone from suing gun manufacturers for liability in shootings; and c) The ANWR Drilling Fiasco Act, which I already discussed here. Smooth, sly, and very effective. During the Cold War, the U.S. military based all of their strategies on the bedrock concept of the two-war theory, i.e. everything they planned for had to encompass the ability to fight two separate, theater-wide wars in two separate places. Congressional Democrats could learn a thing or two from this idea. They cannot merely be prepared to fight one piece of nutso legislation at a time, because clearly the GOP majority has the capability and intent to put forth a multi-pronged legislative agenda. This will be difficult, akin to the problem of having only ten fingers when there are fifteen holes in the dike, but it has to be done. One way to combat this multi-pronged assault is to approach the entire issue from the perspective of the 2006 midterm elections. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) is already preparing for this, and has warned Senate Republicans that votes they cast this week against initiatives intended to help America's communities would come back to haunt them during the 2006 campaign. "Senators are defined by their voting record," said DSCC Executive Director J.B. Poersch. "Senators who vote against priorities like protecting Social Security benefits, making our neighborhoods safer, or providing veterans' health care can rest assured that they will pay a price come election time. We guarantee it." In other words, when you screw veterans, national security and the environment with your publicly-recorded vote, prepare to be in a commercial next year that runs your reputation through a meat grinder.
The ball is already in play on this. Some specific examples:
Republicans Allen, Burns, DeWine, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Snowe, Talent and Thomas voted against $2.8 billion for veterans health care and $2.8 billion for deficit reduction. That’s a commercial.
Republicans Allen, Burns, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Talent and Thomas Voted against restoring $14 billion to Medicaid and establishing a bipartisan Medicaid commission. That’s a commercial.
Republicans Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Kyl, Lott, Santorum and Thomas voted against $855 million for Homeland Security grants for first responder programs, port security grants and border patrol agents. That’s a commercial.
Republicans Allen, Burns, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Snowe, Talent and Thomas (funny how the same names keep coming up) voted against restoring $1.9 billion in cuts to the Community Development Block Grant Program. That’s a commercial.
Republicans Allen, Burns, DeWine, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Snowe, Talent and Thomas voted against $7.46 billion for the Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act and deficit reduction. Commercial.
Republicans Allen, Burns, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Snowe, Talent and Thomas voted against $4.75 billion for education and $4.75 billion for deficit reduction. Commercial.
Republicans Allen, Burns, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Talent and Thomas voted against restoring $5.4 billion to education program cuts and increasing the maximum Pell Grant award to $4,500. Commercial.
Republicans put the bricks to farmers: Allen, Burns, Chafee, DeWine, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Snowe, Talent and Thomas voted against restoring $2.8 billion to agriculture programs. Midwest commercial.
Republicans Allen, Burns, DeWine, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Talent and Thomas voted against a resolution supporting $1 billion for family planning programs, such as teen pregnancy prevention. Moral values hypocrisy commercial.
Republicans Allen, Burns, Chafee, DeWine, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Snowe, Talent and Thomas voted against refusing to establish any appropriations bill that allows funds to be provided for "prepackaged news stories" that do not have a disclaimer stating "Paid for by the United States Government" running throughout the presentation. Commercial.
Republicans Allen, Burns, DeWine, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Snowe, Talent and Thomas voted against a reserve fund that would provide $71.3 billion for special education programs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Commercial.

You get the idea. There is plenty of grist for the mill, and the loyal opposition needs to take the lead with the DSCC to let the GOP majority know that they are going to become famous in a bad way come election time because of these votes. Give them pause when the next votes come along.

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