Who Hijacked Our Country

Monday, October 18, 2010

Three Cheers for Congress — YAAAYY!!!

When you think of this current session of Congress, you probably imagine a group of passive Democrats sitting there helpless — paralyzed with terror — while a small group of corporate prostitutes (formerly known as Republicans) blocks their every move.

Would you believe, this 111th Congress has been the most productive congress since the mid-1960s.

Congress passed Medicare and some major civil rights legislation in the mid-’60s. Just like today, there was a huge backlash against “Socialism!” In the ensuing midterm elections (1966), Republicans gained 48 seats in the House and four in the Senate.

If Republicans gain 48 seats this coming November they’ll capture the House. In 1966 the Democrats had a larger majority before the election so they kept control of the House.

This 1966 parallel doesn’t bode well for this year, does it. We’ll have to hope that the trouncing in two weeks will be just a temporary setback and not a permanent shift to the Right, like the teawads are predicting.

Also in the mid-’60s, America was getting more and more quagmired in Vietnam. Democrats caught most of the backlash, being the party in power, even though the Vietnam War had been inherited from previous administrations. Hmmm, does that have some sort of eerie parallel with…oh, nevermind…

According to Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, the 111th Congress is:

“At least on a par with the 89th Congress” of 1965-1966. “A world dominated by bickering and epithet-throwing and bomb tossing in Washington obscures accomplishments.”

This article mentions three landmark bills passed by Congress: the $814 billion stimulus package, which prevented us from repeating the Great Depression of the 1930s; health care reform; and legislation to rein in Wall Street.

Other “smaller” accomplishments include: Cash for Clunkers, federal hate crimes legislation, more consumer protections for credit card users, curbing some of the worst interest rates for college loans, and tax credits for first time homeowners.

Just imagine how much more could have been accomplished if Congressional Republicans cared as much about people as they do about banks and insurance companies.

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Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Democrats did get a lot done in spite of unceasing obstruction by the Party of No. They deserve credit and support for what they did get done. Health care and financial reform, imperfect though the final products were, are major achievements.

The sad truth is, the economy has remained so bad for so many people that it overpowers Democrats' accomplishments in the mind of most people. Contributing to the lack of credit is that Democrats looked as surefooted and resolute on the way to getting things done as an old Laurel & Hardy comedy. If you've seen the one where L&H are wallpaper hangers, you know what I mean. Another factor is that the stimulus was too small and parceled out too slowly for most people to feel anything from it, and health care reform only began to partially go into effect this month.

Congressional Democrats need someone to plan, coordinate and direct their impression-making activities. Even when they're working to do good things, playing it straight, they have a way of coming off looking clumsy, weak and divided. Maybe they could bring in Joe Trippi or Howard Dean.

October 19, 2010 at 12:19 AM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

The problem is that the political culture has changed quite a bit in the last forty years. If Teabags take either house of congress, not only will any legitimate governing come to a complete halt, but they will set themselves about undoing everything that has been accomplished in the last two years and likely succeed.

The Republican influx in the late sixties didn't promise such.

October 19, 2010 at 4:19 PM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

I was talking this morning with a friend about how little credit the public has given Obama and the Dems. I know the economy is tough but all in all I think our folks have done a good job.

October 19, 2010 at 5:45 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: Even though lots of people (myself included) have complained that health care reform and financial reform were "watered down," they're still landmark achievements. Unfortunately, the Democrats are every bit as un-surefooted as you describe. They definitely need to plan, coordinate and communicate better.

Thomas: I don't think they'll be able to undo anything; they just won't release the funding to enforce regulations of HMOs, banks, etc. The solution is for Democrats to start rivaling Republicans when it comes to invoking parliamentary procedures that nobody ever heard of, delaying tactics and other Republican-style tricks. Since these tactics work so well, both sides should be doing it.

J: I agree, they've accomplished a lot. I still think Obama should have been more forceful and hands-on during the earliest part of his term. He'll need to be a much stronger leader for these next 2 years.

October 19, 2010 at 7:50 PM  
Blogger Mile High Pixie said...

Tom, been a long time since I've tuned in to your blog, and I'm glad to see you still mad and still calling out the tomfoolery and silliness. There was a recent headline on The Onion saying something like "Democrats Face Down Upcoming Elections By Running Away From Every One of Their Meaningful Accomplishments." Did you get a chance to watch/attend Stewart or Colbert's rallies this past weekend?

October 31, 2010 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

MHP: Yup, I'm still ranting away. I haven't seen the Onion article, but that headline sounds about right. That and "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory" are the Democrats' main trademarks.

I didn't go the either of those rallies, just saw some articles about them. It's the kind of levity we could all use right now. No matter how disastrous this Tuesday's election is, I'll be glad when it's over.

October 31, 2010 at 2:51 PM  

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