The End of the Democratic Majority

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Well, that was a nice moment of optimism last week. What's next?

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced her support for Rep. John Murtha's (D-PA) Maj Leader campaign last p.m. In a letter, Pelosi writes: "I salute your courageous leadership that changed the national debate and helped make Iraq the central issue of this historic election."

According to various media accounts and Hotline sources, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) leads the race with 39 public commitments to Murtha's 15. Neither camp has released a public list of supporters. To see Pelosi's full letter backing Murtha and a list of members who have publicly declared their support, skip past the jump.

Meanwhile, Pelosi put the kibosh on Rep. Jane Harman's (D-CA) hopes of chairing the Intel cmte, meaning that Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) is the next-most senior Dem in line to take the chair. The move, according to Washington Post's Weisman, is a decision "pregnant with personal animus."

Say what you will about Newt Gingrich, especially since he got conked on a head by a copy of The Gathering Storm and decided to declare WWIII on Muslimoterrorfascistnogoodniks. When he took over the House, he followed through on reforms that ended, perhaps forever, the era of Methuselah-spry congressmen running committees for decade after decade. Pelosi's first move in power is to scratch the back of the guy who helped whip her leadership victory back in 2002. In other words, repeating Gingrich's dumbest move from his first, embryonic days in the Speakership, when he tried to get revenge on Tom DeLay, who had opposed his original bid for GOP leader, and failed.

Neither Murtha (32 years in the House) nor Hoyer (20 years) is the kind of leader who'll follow through on the Democrats' promises to clean up Congress or balance the budget. Hey, GOP: As long as you don't choose Joe Barton, you can win us back.

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  1. Wow, Weigal criticizing a Democrat. Maybe we won’t have Dave Weigal to kick around anymore. Who knows. Come on now, where is Joe and Chicago Tom to tell us how Democratic pork, unlike the Republican variety, is really good for us. In addition to spending just like Republicans, I fully expect Pelosi and company to stay to their roots and tax the living shit out of all of us. Don’t worry unlike Republicans they won’t be borrowing to prop up their crooked cronies, Pelosi and Murtha will do it the old fashioned way; by stealing the money through taxes from the people who rightfully earned it.

  2. John, unclench. “Weigal” is an equal-opportunity balloon-pricker.

  3. Which is a good thing, by the way.

  4. David Weigel is clearly a shill for the GOP 🙂

    It’s great being a libertarian of any stripe. You get called liberal (in the non-classical sense), “right of Attila the Hun”, fascist, heartless, bleeding-heart, arch-capitalistic, unrealistic, too realistic, etc. I think most libertarians are just people who like being difficult to pigeonhole.

    Unlike the situation in 1994, the Democrats don’t have much of a promise to keep. No “Contract with America” and no clear statement even on major platform issues like the war. Therefore, using their current power to set up further gains in 2008 and to milk the system for all it’s worth is the top priority. If there is a practical difference between the two parties when they are in power, I’m not sure what it is. But that’s okay, let’s pretend that all of the useless rhetoric is what matters.

  5. Pro,

    The Republicans cut taxes when the had the chance. They were willing to do that. No question either party will spend as much money as humanly possible to keep their crooked cronies fat, dumb and happy. Taxes is the real big difference domesticly between the two parties. Given all three branches of government, I have no doubt the Democrats would return the country to the days of the late 1970s when income taxes were not indexed and the top rates were 50+ percent. Afterall it is only moral to tax the rich for the children.

  6. John,

    Cutting some taxes without reducing spending isn’t going to win my respect. If anything, the GOP Congress increased spending. We’re going to pay for that spending with taxes at some point, so it’s just another variety of three-card monte. Give me a party that will reduce my taxes and cut spending, and maybe they’ll get my enthusiastic vote.

  7. We’re going to pay for that spending with taxes at some point, so it’s just another variety of three-card monte.

    Not if they would just FREEZE spending for four fucking years!

    A man can hope, can’t he?

  8. Pro,

    Congress increased spending. The only way to stop them is to cut taxes so much that the bond market just won’t support anymore borrowing. I am a big believer in starving the beast.

    Tom Paine’s Goiter,

    Bush I and Gingrish both tried that and were promptly roasted in the media for “cutting social programs”. Government spending has programed in increases by law. Try to stop those and you are accused of heartlessly cutting spending, even though all you are doing is freezing spending in absolute terms. Such is the math of Washington.

  9. Wow, Weigal criticizing a Democrat. Maybe we won’t have Dave Weigal to kick around anymore.

    I think my comment comparing him to Kos on his “The No-Mandate Myth” article rattled him. 🙂

  10. Congress increased spending. The only way to stop them is to cut taxes so much that the bond market just won’t support anymore borrowing. I am a big believer in starving the beast.

    The problem being with dems in congress it might spark a war with china.

  11. Bush I and Gingrish both tried that and were promptly roasted in the media for “cutting social programs”. Government spending has programed in increases by law. Try to stop those and you are accused of heartlessly cutting spending, even though all you are doing is freezing spending in absolute terms. Such is the math of Washington.

    Uh, yeah, thanks, I understand how it works.

  12. John: You and Mr. Norquist are wrong on this point. I’ve come to expect that from both of you.

  13. John,

    You have to realize that Mr. Weigel is much like the NY Times. BEFORE the election the Dems could do no wrong. AFTER the election he will conveniently find heretofor unnoticed cracks in their veneer. This pattern will continue until the next election -or- until Dave gets his dream job with The Nation 🙂

    In other words – Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

  14. BEFORE the election the Dems could do no wrong. AFTER the election he will conveniently find heretofor unnoticed cracks in their veneer.

    Bwahahaaha!

    I expect David to do this because he is a libertarian writing for Reason and the dems are now in a position of power…the New York Times will continue as it always has to give a free pass to the Dems.

  15. Before the election, libertarians and fiscal conservatives pointed out that the Republicans in Congress were “spending like Democrats.”

    Now John warns us that the Democrats who now control Congress will be “spending like Republicans.”

    Not a dime’s worth of difference? Maybe it’s time to get off the dime!

  16. Pork-barrel spending might not change much in the new Congress, but it will no longer be a rubber stamp for Bush’s patently unconstitutional domestic and foreign policies. A few leadership positions are small potatoes compared to that.

    Which brings me to another question. We libertarians spent the run up to the election hoping for a Democratic victory to provide a check and balance to the executive branch. Now we’re spending all of our time trying to undermine the Democrats and reduce their effectiveness. If we need someone who will stand up to Bush, does it make any sense to snipe at them now?

  17. John, cutting tax rates without cutting spending is nothing more than a shell game. It’s easy to cut taxes: everyone likes that in the short term. It’s not easy, as you admit, to cut spending, because the people generally don’t like it when you do. If the complains about cuts sell with the public: isn’t that YOUR problem with failing to convince the public that those things should be cut?

  18. I like how Pelosi (a politician) is being blasted for doing something for political reasons. Hello, Onion?

  19. If only the Right People were in charge!

    Pork is a systemic problem, more than an individual problem. The individuals in Congress didn’t get dramatically more corrupt in 2000; the Republicans just changed the budget rules. Returning sanity to budget process is what matters here, not the names in the leadership.

    One of these days, somebody who declares John Murtha to be the end of the Democrats’ hopes is going to be right. But I don’t think it’s today, Dave.

  20. Danged right pork is a systemic problem. And I don’t expect one thing to change. If the GOP did really squeeze more pork out than the Democrats did when they were in power–which is a debatable point, I’m sure–the new methods will serve the Democrats equally well. Power to do such things is rarely left unwielded when available.

    Every time I read Murtha’s name, I think about Shaft, who was a bad Murtha–“Shut yo’ mouth!”

  21. “If the GOP did really squeeze more pork out than the Democrats did when they were in power–which is a debatable point, I’m sure”

    That is not even a remotely debateable point, Pro Libertate.

    Google “Number of Earmarks by Year.”

    I found this quote, from our very own Jacob Sullum:

    “According to the Congressional Research Service, the number of earmarks, about 14,000 last year, has more than tripled since 1994.”

    Earmarks tripled under Republican rule. Tripled. Don’t give me this bullshot Cathy Young “pox on both their houses” pose. There are actual facts out there and, as usual, reality has a liberal bias.

  22. Quibble, quibble. The point is, the GOP’s success in gobbling bacon is a lesson that the Democrats will learn from, not repudiate.

  23. For all of you people who think raising taxes is such a great idea two questions, how do square that with any commitment to freedom and property rights? Second, how do you ever expect to control spending if you constantly give a rubber stanp to Congress to take your money through taxes? Currently, the government takes about 18% of GNP in taxes. Isn’t that enough? If not why not? It seems downright insane to think that the way to stop spending is to let the government take more of your money.

  24. Currently, the government takes about 18% of GNP in taxes. Isn’t that enough?

    Surely, if you include state and local taxes that figure would be higher. Or am I wrong?

  25. The Republicans cut taxes when the had the chance. They were willing to do that. No question either party will spend as much money as humanly possible to keep their crooked cronies fat, dumb and happy.

    So, the difference is that Dems expect us to pay now while the GOP expects us to pay at some undetermined point in the future? And, how exactly is this consistent with anything other than either massive and crippling taxes down the road or defaulting on the national debt and throwing the nation into chaos? I mean, Jesus Christ John, is it that difficult to carry one of your ideas to it’s logical conclusion at least *once* in your life?

  26. So, the difference is that Dems expect us to pay now while the GOP expects us to pay at some undetermined point in the future?

    actually you just stop growing the size of government for 4 years and our economy would grow into paying off the debt…with the proper amount of tax cuts.

    Is it just me or has no one here ever even heard of Laffer or seen Faris Buelers day off?

  27. I think, joshua, that the record deficits of the 1980s and 2000s – you know, reality? – might be better sources from which to draw conclusions about the “Laugher” Curve than “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

  28. John, unclench. “Weigal” is an equal-opportunity balloon-pricker.

    Keep it clean, this is a family blog…

    Pro L
    I think most libertarians are just people who like being difficult to pigeonhole.

    No, we’re very easy to pidgeonhole… incorrectly.

    Oh, all ye of short mammories:

    Democrats were firmly in control of the House and the Senate for some forty years prior to 1994, so those of you youngin’ Kos Democrats who know not of a time when Democrats held sway over the purse strings, your history isn’t so perfectly clean and shiny.

  29. We all knew that the Demoplicans (who the fuck is in charge now?) are just as corrupt, hypocritical, and full of shit as the Replicrats. We just hoped gridlock would prevent either from doing anything.

    For a Dem controlled house, senate, and executive branch – we just need to remember Gray Davis era California. Bush-style budgeting with Enron-style accounting on top.

  30. Hey, I’ve got an idea:

    Why don’t we wait and see what the Democrats do before passing judgement on how they comported themselves when they won the majority?

    The new Congress won’t be sworn in for two months. The 2008 budget will start being put together a couple months after that.

    At this point, any Dem bashing, or even pox-on-both-their-houses posing, is woefully premature.

  31. John, truly you are priceless. I recall several people here previously responded to your accusations that Weigel and other H&R writers are Democratic shills by predicting that they would attack Demo silliness with just as much gusto if they had any power. And now you have the temerity to express amazement when it actually happens. Hilarious.

  32. Furthermore, John, nice job knocking down that strawman of posters who “think raising taxes is such a great idea.” We’d all like our taxes to be as low as possible. It’s just that some of us think it would be a little more honest to match revenue collection to spending. You see, if you really want to force politicians to cut spending, you need the voters to feel the pain of supplying every dollar they spend.

    Government spending has programed in increases by law. Try to stop those and you are accused of heartlessly cutting spending, even though all you are doing is freezing spending in absolute terms.

    Were you not paying attention during all the articles on this site showing how much spending has risen under this president EXCLUSIVE OF social security, medicare, and the military? How can anybody here take you seriously when you can’t admit that your Republican heroes have abandoned the principles they (and you) claim to hold?

  33. joshua,

    23-year old journalist in Arlington, VA. I’m far less liberal than most Kosites – I’m a libertarian who’s just fed up with Bush’s GOP, and likes what the Democrats are doing right now. But there’s really no better place for political discussion than dKos.

    From http://daveweigel.dailykos.com/

    The only thing I really take from that is the implied insult at us Hit and Runners who are obviously far inferior to the Kossacks when it comes to “political discussion”.

  34. Paul,

    I think your comment about short memories is relevant to Mr. Weigel’s tiny autobio on Kos. If you haven’t lived through complete Democratic domination of Congress (they held both houses of Congress for the first 23 years of my life, except for a brief reign by the Republicans in the Senate from 1985-1988) you probably have a different definition of “business as usual” for Congress than someone younger. That doesn’t mean that any enthusiasm for a changing of the guard isn’t warranted, particularly in the wake of the execrable Republican majorities of the last 6 years, but unless the Democrats decide to go with some of the new blood that brought them the majority instead of rewarding long-time service party-loyalist bullshit, only a fool would expect any significant changes in government behavior over the next two years.

  35. However, looking back at David’s original post (it’s been all day since I read it, and I apologize), it’s quite clear that even through the fog of his youth* he recognizes the same problem. Porking scum like Murtha are not likely at all to carry through on Crypt-Keeper Pelosi’s pledge to “drain the swamp”.

    *Imagine a 😉 there.

  36. 18% of GNP. No of of you clowns bothered to notice that. The federal government currently takes 18% of every dollar earned in this country and that after the Republican tax cuts, which the Democrats will no doubt let expire. Yet, you people think that is not enough to run the government and tax increases are what we need because big spending? No, tax cuts are what we need so they don’t get the money in the first place.

  37. Cutting taxes without cutting spending, in an effort to “starve the beast,” has been tried twice already, and has been a miserable failure each time. The Republicans have proven their willingness to engage in absurd levels of deficit spending in response to drastically reduced revenues, rather than the cost-cutting John would like to see.

    The only polcies that have restrained spending have been the deficit reduction agreements of the 1990s

    “Letting Bush’s tax cuts expire” means going back to the tax policies that were in place during the longest period of peacetime economic expansion in our nation’s history (contrary to the predictions of conservatives, who assured us that we’d see recessions and reduced reveunue). Just take the medicine, you wimp; it’s really not that bad.

  38. I love that argument: The economy would be doing so much better if not for Bush’s tax cuts. Sometimes you really are completely full of it, joe.

  39. Read gooder, jf. I never claimed that Bush’s tax cuts harmed the economy, just that Clinton’s tax increases did none of the harm you people were so confidently predicting.

  40. …willingness to engage in absurd levels of deficit spending in response to drastically reduced revenues…

    Huh?

  41. Sorry, joe; with your “just take the medicine” comment I inferred you were making an argument that higher taxes would lead to economic prosperity.

  42. Timon19,

    Nice chart. Do you see those three years from 2001-2003, when federal revenues were dropping? Each one of the budgets submitted by Bush and approved by the Republicans included substantial increases in spending.

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