Friday, December 17, 2010

Bob Bennett: Consistent and Tone Deaf

Boston Harbor, 1773
Two hundred and thirty-seven years ago last night (can it really be just a "coincidence?"), a group of colonists disguised as Indians boarded British merchant ships and dumped an estimated £10,000 worth of tea into Boston Harbor.

John Adams described that moment in our history as the “grandest event which has ever yet happened since the controversy with Britain opened.”  The struggle for independence from Britain would drag on for eight long and frustrating years before the American dream of freedom became reality as the British redcoats succumbed to the ragtag band of patriots and the Revolutionary War finally ended. 

Many people believe the Boston Tea Party was just a protest about an unfair tax.  But it was infinitely more than that.  The 1773 Tea Party was a manifestation of the colonists' protest against the process by which the British government taxed them.  It was the methods the British throne was using to govern them that aroused them to action.

Senator Harry Reid (D-NV)
Last night, our forefathers would have been proud.  Another major victory against what can only be described as a tyrannical process was won when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–NV) was forced to drop his $1.27 trillion, 1,924-page omnibus spending bill.  Orrin Hatch (R-UT) called this bill "dreadful" and opposed it vociferously.  He's gone to school on Bennett's demise, and is already running hard in his all out social media blitz to bid for re-election in 2012.

The problem with Reid’s omnibus spending bill was not just its size, but the process by which it was drafted and forced on the American people.  There was no committee review.  No one was given the chance to read the bill before it came up for a vote.  It was being crammed down at the last minute again. 

The utter collapse of this "dreadful" bill was a complete rejection of that way of doing business in Washington.  It's historic in its implications because it came at the end of the 111th Congress, the lowest rated Congress since Gallup has recorded public opinion. 

Senator John McCain (R–AZ) told National Review:  “I know this is a seminal moment, because for the first time since I’ve been here, we stood up and said ‘enough.’”  Classic quote!!

Lame Duck Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT)
Last night’s victory could not have happened without the modern reincarnation of the Tea Party.  Here's the saddest part of the story for me personally.  Once again, lame duck Senator Bob Bennett (R–UT), who was resoundingly rejected at the nominating convention, lined up on the wrong side of history on his way out the door after eighteen years.  He was working “actively to round up as many as nine potential Republican votes” for the omnibus bill.  He never heard the electorate, and continues to turn a deaf ear right to the bitter end.  "That's my intention," Bennett told The Hill when asked if he would support the package.  Bennett said earmarks in the bill might give some of his GOP colleagues reason to hesitate but wouldn't affect his vote. "It will be tough for some, but not for me," he said.  During his re-election bid he not only refused to oppose the earmark practice, he defended it.  And we all know how that ended at the convention.

The bill was tinselled with over 6,000 earmarks worth $8 billion, a "mere fraction" of the total size of the bill, but come on, they're trying to pull this crap within a month and a half of a stunning repudiation of the "business as usual" way of doing things in Washington D.C.?  Even President Obama described it as a "shellacking."  It appears, the will of the American people will not be denied, even in this lame duck Congress.

To counter Bennett's actions among his Republican colleagues, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–KY) worked in direct opposition to Bennett with those nine Republicans.  Many of them are members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  McConnell asked them to drop their support for the bill. 

Senator Thad Cochran (R–MS), the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, had 281 earmarks worth $561 million in the bill.  McConnell himself had 48 earmarks worth $113 million.  It's shameful, but this time they got it right at long last when the chips were down.  I'm encouraged, and I'm the forever optimist.

But the daylight has finally dawned, it appears.  McConnell told National Review afterward: “We decided that we’re not going to pass a 2,000-page bill that nobody has seen since yesterday. That’s not the way to operate and that’s not the message from the November elections.”  May history be made!!

This is fabulous news, America!  It can only be considered a victory!  Not every member of the unpopular 111th Congress has gotten the message of the November elections.  By the time the next election cycle rolls around, watch for the remaining clingers on to the Obama agenda to be gone altogether if this emerging 112th Congress sticks to its knitting and continues to listen to their constituents.

According to Gallup, the American people dislike this 111th Congress more than any other Congress in the history of public opinion data gathering.  Eighty-three percent of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job, while only 13 percent approve.  It was the faith of Thomas Jefferson that the majority of informed Americans would almost invariably eventually get it right.  That's why he never hesitated to put so much power into the hands of the citizens, and eschewed big government.  He spread power around intentionally for these very reasons, and once again the Founders are exonerated.

That is the worst approval rating in more than 30 years of tracking congressional job performance. 

Last night Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D–CA) House also voted to prevent a massive tax hike on the American people.  It now looks like Congress will pass a simple bill that freezes spending through February of next year.

Mercifully, the 111th Congress is toothless at last.  And Senator Bob Bennett, the first harbinger of the electorate's wrath against incumbents in 2010, finally goes with it.

To the bitter end, Senator Bennett remained consistent and tone deaf.

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