Posts tagged ‘Senate Republicans’

Inverting the Constitution

When the framers of the Constitution designed its separation of powers features, they presumed that members of each of the three branches would try to protect their own turf.  In other words, grabs of power by one branch would be met by hard pushback from other branches.

What they did not anticipate was that Congress would simply give away power to the Executive.  It seems like Congressman only want their job titles, and maybe the ability to pass a few earmarks for the home district now and then, and would really like not to be bothered by that whole legislation thing.  After all, your election opponents can't critique you for votes that were never taken.

This has been occuring for years, with the accretion of regulatory authorities (like the EPA) whose rules-making effectively usurps traditional Congressional regulatory authority.

More recently, the Democrats in Congress gave away immense power in Obamacare by creating an independent cost cutting board.  Cost cutting suggestions of this board become law automatically unless Congress votes to override the changes, and even then they cannot override without passing cost cuts of similar magnitude on their own.  The whole point was to take legislation of things like the doc fix, which just gets everyone riled up, out of the sphere of Congressional accountability.

Now the Senate Republicans are proposing what appears to me to be exactly the same bullsh*t vis a vis the debt limit.  The debt limit is in fact a poor name.  In fact, it should be called the debt authorization.  Issuance of government debt can only by Constitutionally authorized by Congress, but instead of giving the Administration a blank check, it authorizes the Treasury to issue debt up to some limit, kind of like the limit on a credit card and serving much the same purpose.  While Democrats talk about the debt limit as if it is some useless device, sort of like an appendix, it is in fact central to the excercise of power by both branches as set up in the Constitution.

Senate Republicans, though, want to change all that by giving the Executive Branch what amounts to a credit card with no limit.  Why? Again, Congress is just dead tired of being so accountable for so many difficult decisions, and it would rather turn the President in to an Emperor than have to face difficult questions at reelection time.  This is so gutless I could scream:

The debt limit now works as an only if proposition: the debt limit is increased only if Congress votes affirmatively to authorize an increase. Increasing the debt limit therefore requires a majority of the House and Senate to cast a difficult aye vote, plus a Presidential signature. The McConnell proposal would invert this into an unless proposition: the debt limit would automatically be increased unlessCongress voted to stop it. And by changing the key vote to a veto override, you would need only 1/3 of either the House or Senate to take a tough vote to allow the debt limit to increase.

In exchange for this significant increase in Presidential authority, the President would take most of the political heat for the debt limit increase, and he would be required to propose difficult spending cuts of an equal or greater amount.

Congresspersons of both parties don't give a cr*p about the Constitution or fiscal responsibility.  They just want to avoid accountability.

Fortunately, I can see the House buying this at all.  The House has a special role in spending and taxation, and I see them far more loath to accept this kind of deal.

We're All Technocrats

The auto bailout is dead, at least for now:

A bailout-weary Congress killed a $14 billion package to aid struggling U.S. automakers Thursday night after a partisan dispute over union wage cuts derailed a last-ditch effort to revive the emergency
aid before year's end.

Republicans, breaking sharply with President George W. Bush as his term draws to a close, refused to back federal aid for Detroit's beleaguered Big Three without a guarantee that the United Auto Workers would agree by the end of next year to wage cuts to bring their pay into line with U.S. plants of Japanese carmakers. The UAW refused to do so before its current contract with the automakers expires in 2011.

Good.  Chapter 11 was made for this kind of situation, and folks will quickly come to understand that productive assets don't go *poof* in a bankruptcy  (though equity values can).

By the way, you will note that Senate Republicans did not suddenly become economic libertarians.  Their objection seems to be that the bill does not micro-manage the auto industry they same way they would want to micro-manage the auto industry.  You can see in these political battles that Congress brings its usual identity politics to these decisions:  Republicans want to hammer the unions, Democrats want to hammer executive pay.  Which is why these restructuring discussions don't belong in Congress.

Congress is Nuts

The Democrats are in the process of making some really silly choices for their leadership positions, so the Republicans take the opportunity to grab the moral high ground by... bringing Trent Lott back into the leadership?  Huh?  Other than being perhaps a convoluted FU to John Conyers, who has been dissing Mississippi, what sense does this make?  I thought Jeff Flake made a convincing argument on 60-Minutes that the Republicans had blown their own foot off in this last election.  It seems that rather than putting down the gun, they are just raising their aim.

I don't know where I got the link from, but this is the best comment I have seen on the whole Trent Lott election, from Dean Barnett:

there's one message that the electorate sent the Republican Party last
week, it's that we hadn't given them enough of Trent Lott. I cannot
adequately express my delight that Senate Republicans have moved with
such expediency to right this egregious wrong.