Barack Obama

Reid vs. Reform, and Reform Wins by K.O.

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Robert Novak has the write-up I've been waiting for on last week's drama in the Senate, when Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to kill the House Democrats' version of earmark reform—as introduced by Republican Jim DeMint.

Reid moved to table (that is, kill) DeMint's amendment, which would substitute in the Senate ethics package the language covering all earmarks as contained in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's House bill. Reid was surprised to fail, 46 to 51, with nine Democrats abandoning their majority leader. The Senate routine is that when a tabling motion fails, the bill is passed by a voice vote. But an obviously distressed Reid took the floor to hold open the vote indefinitely on DeMint's bill, contending that the Democratic-controlled House had acted in haste.

The ploy was shut down by some Democrats whom, I'm pleased to note, I've taken flak for occasionally promoting on H&R.

The two leading Senate Democratic reformers, Russell Feingold of Wisconsin and Barack Obama of Illinois, who two days earlier lavished praise on Reid's ethical leadership, voted against him on the tabling motion. However, of the nine freshman Democrats who also had honored Reid, only two—Jim Webb of Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana—voted for transparency. The other seven toed Reid's party line. (Seven Republicans voted with Reid, but they included Minority Whip Trent Lott.)

One of the terrific ironies of election 2006: In demoting Republicans to the minority, they have apparently empowered the party's best senators. Coburn had some successes in the 109th Congress, but he wasn't rising in the ranks. Nor did he really want to. He's told me he considered himself a "minority in the majority" and that his role wouldn't be much different in a Democratic majority. But now that Republicans are no longer running the agenda and worrying about covering for the Bush administration, Coburn's got a louder voice in the caucus. And, apparently, allies in the Democratic party. Same for DeMint. (It's a shame this isn't how things work in the House.)

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  1. I’ve got nothing against Harry Reid, but it’s good to see that Pelosi is wearing the pants in that family.

    It’s also good to see that the two houses of Congress are at each others’ throats again, as they should be. The close relationships of the past six yeears between the Senate and House, and between Congress and the White House for that matter, was a little too buddy-buddy for my tastes.

  2. “Coburn had some successes in the 109th Congress, but he wasn’t rising in the ranks. Nor did he really want to. He’s told considered himself a “minority in the majority” and that his role wouldn’t be much different in a Democratic majority. But now that Republicans are no longer running the agenda and worrying about covering for the Bush administration, Coburn’s got a louder voice in the caucus. And, apparently, allies in the Democratic party. Same for DeMint”

    Reasons why time in the minority is good for a party. The longer you are in the majority, the more wedded you become to the satus quo and paying off political debts. If you are in the minority, you don’t really have any political debts (hey we will finish last without you) and you can’t be as beholden to lobbyiest because you don’t have any power. It allows people to actually do things on principle.

    Yeah, Pelosi is wearing the pants around there, espically about the minimum wage huh? Good thing she saved the economy of micronesia. Of course, there is no evidence whatsoever that raising the minimum wage does anything to the employment rate.

  3. Can anyone tell me what were Reid’s objections to the earmark reform? I’m just too lazy to look it up.

  4. “thing she saved the economy of micronesia. Of course, there is no evidence whatsoever that raising the minimum wage does anything to the employment rate.” The American Society of Straw Producers called, John. You’ve been nominated again.

    You spend way too much time worrying about me.

    Les, I believe it boild down to “The Republicans cane take their amendments and shove them.” So it’s good that the Senate overrode him and considered them on their merits.

  5. I think earmark reform will turn out like campaign finance reform. Just another vain attempt to separate money from power.

    I like Obama’s database of transparency. Not sure it will do any good, but it might.

  6. Maybe Reid just wants to be able to earmark some tickets for the next big boxing event in Vegas or for his next land deal.

  7. thing she saved the economy of micronesia. Of course, there is no evidence whatsoever that raising the minimum wage does anything to the employment rate.” The American Society of Straw Producers called, John. You’ve been nominated again.”

    Way to avoid the quesiton Joe. Why is that a straw man? Why is the minimum wage so good for the US but not for micronesia? You don’t have answer because there isn’t one. Instead of admiting that fact you just chose to avoid the issue alltogether by throwing out insults.

  8. Of course, there is no evidence whatsoever that raising the minimum wage does anything to the employment rate.

    Wait, I thought one of the big objections to the minimum wage in the first place was that it drove the employment rate [i]down[/i]. So…”the Republicans are wrong! Take that, Pelosi!”

  9. “Wait, I thought one of the big objections to the minimum wage in the first place was that it drove the employment rate [i]down[/i]”

    Which of course was exactly what it was going to do to Micronesia, and why the tuna companies there calld their favorite San Fran representative and got an exception. But this is Reason; corruption by Democrats is generally a nonstarter.

  10. “Way to avoid the quesiton Joe.”

    Actually, I’m just ignoring you.

  11. John,

    As far as I can tell, American Samoa and Micronesia are not the same thing.

  12. Passing on someone else’s mistake is the risk you run when you mindlessly repeat other people’s talking points.

  13. “I think earmark reform will turn out like campaign finance reform. Just another vain attempt to separate money from power.”

    I’m not one of those libertarians who has no confidence in government. While not sure of the details of the proposal, but I am confident that congressmen will find a way – probably many ways around it – around it.

    After all, the Robert Byrd Museum of Five Pin Bowlers hasn’t yet got funding.

  14. “corruption by Democrats is generally a nonstarter.”

    It’s usually not corruption until money, perhaps in a brief case or burlap sack, changes hands (where it is then stored in the nearest freezer). 🙂

    Jefferson? Yup.
    Pelsoi? Somehow I doubt it.

  15. Passing on someone else’s mistake is the risk you run when you mindlessly repeat other people’s talking points.

    THD DRIFT ALERT:

    I listen to a radio station out of Hamilton, Ontario that pits one of the deejays against a call-in listener in a contest of trivia. It is sort of like the isolation booth part of Win ben Stein’s money, but on the radio.

    When I lissen, the deejay gets most questions correct and usually wins. They try to bust ppl who use wikipedia over the phone.

    Anyways, this morning when they were quiizing the call-in lissener, they told him that the primary colors were not red, blue, yellow, but rather red, blue, green.

    Then the deejay came on. She identified the primary colors as red, blue, green and was awarded a point for a correct answer.

    After the commercial break, they apologized for having the incorrect answer (people noticed apparenty). They did not mention the fact that the hot-shot deejay had the same incorrect answer that the answer sheet did.

  16. Actually, the primary subtractive colors (i.e. paint mixing) are yellow, magenta, and cyan (basically yellow, red, and blue), while the primary additive colors (i.e. light mixing) are red, green, and blue.

    If I had been the contestant, I would have asked for clarification.

    DJ: What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

    Me: What do you mean? African or European swallow?

    DJ: I don’t know that….aarrgghh!!

  17. The bill failed to pass probably cause it was bogged down by earmarks…

  18. But this is Reason; corruption by Democrats is generally a nonstarter.

    Does anyone beside John really believe that? I could search through my back issues (sorry, John, too lazy) but when it comes to major party political shenanigans I have the impression that Reason has little time for either party.

  19. I can’t speak for everyone else, but the only beef I had was in the final stretch of the election and David Weigel’s constant electioneering for the Democrats. The only reason was that there is no way long-term that a Dem-controlled Congress is going to be any better than the Republicans when it comes to the very issues being discussed then and now (like spending reform).

    I’ve been around long enough to know that Pelosi and co. haven’t decided to wipe out earmarks without having another sneaky way to fund pork already lined up. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

  20. I never got the impression Weigel was supporting the Democrats “long-term,” just that he wanted to see this batch of Republicans take a whooping in this election.

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