Friday, July 23, 2010

Will a bunch of bitter lame ducks lame us too?

By John Sykes

image As the polarization of this country increases, I find myself terrified by what could be done in a lame duck session by a bunch of bitter defeated or retiring politicians flailing at their failures. This bitterness will only fester even more when they realize that Obama threw them under the bus to get legislation so against the majority will.

In “Beware The Lame Duck” one of my favorites, Charles Krauthammer adds:

But assuming the elections go as currently projected, Obama's follow-on reforms are dead. Except for the fact that a lame-duck session, freezing in place the lopsided Democratic majorities of November 2008, would be populated by dozens of Democratic members who had lost reelection (in addition to those retiring). They could then vote for anything -- including measures they today shun as the midterms approach and their seats are threatened -- because they would have nothing to lose. They would be unemployed. And playing along with Obama might even brighten the prospects for, say, an ambassadorship to a sunny Caribbean isle.

As John Fund reports in the Wall Street Journal, Sens. Jay Rockefeller, Kent Conrad and Tom Harkin are already looking forward to what they might get passed in a lame-duck session. Among the major items being considered are card check, budget-balancing through major tax hikes, and climate-change legislation involving heavy carbon taxes and regulation.

Carol Platt Liebau, in “When Lame Ducks Bite”, sees the same lame duck threats:

This is a matter that transcends partisan differences – or should. When politicians of either party serving at the people’s pleasure brazenly refuse to act in accord with the wishes of those they purportedly represent – and, in fact, collude and strategize to find ways to subvert the popular will – it isn’t just outrageous, disheartening and profoundly unbecoming (though it is all of those). It actually represents a challenge to the concept of democracy itself, and an assault on the civic health of a democratic republic.

How might we might prevent the ravages of a lame duck session? Per Krauthammer:

…Bring the issue up now -- applying the check-and-balance of the people's will before it disappears the morning after Election Day. Every current member should be publicly asked: In the event you lose in November -- a remote and deeply deplorable eventuality, but still not inconceivable -- do you pledge to adhere to the will of the electorate and, in any lame-duck session of Congress, refuse to approve anything but the most routine legislation required to keep the government functioning?

The Democrats could, of course, make the pledge today and break it tomorrow. Call me naive, but I can't believe anyone would be that dishonorable.

And/or, per Phil Kerpen at NRO in “Election Wins Can Stop Lame-Duck Threat”:

Given the number of extremely tight votes in the Senate and the controversial agenda that could be considered in the lame duck, even one or two additional Republicans could make an enormous difference. Moreover, as a matter of principle, there is simply no good reason to allow unelected senators to stay on when their duly elected replacements are available. Candidates in the states where a case can be made for immediate seating should therefore make stopping this far-left agenda in the lame-duck session a selling point with voters and demand to be seated in time to do it.

We can only hope that honorable Congressmen, and I feel somewhat like the Diogenes of lamp fame when I say that, can find the will to suggest and implement these anti-lame-duck measures in a timely manner. If not, the squawking and flapping isn’t going to be pretty as the defeated try to lame us too!

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