Red State says the Democrats:
Last night in the Senate, and for the second time in a week, Republicans scored a victory for spending restraint when they forced the majority Democrats to object to a vote on an earmark reform amendment. The amendment to S.1, The Ethics and Lobby Reform Bill, was offered by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) and would incorporate the “A Second Look at Wasteful Spending Act of 2007” into the legislation.***
The fact is that Democrats object to the Gregg amendment and the DeMint amendment because they aren’t really against earmarks. They only wanted to campaign on the issue, not actually do anything substantive about it. Now that they are in the majority, they want all the perks of office; and that includes easier access to taxpayer dollars for their constituencies and their re-election chances. But feisty Senate Republicans are not letting them have their pork and eat it too. So, Sen. Reid, Sen. Durbin and the rest of the Senate Democrats are obstructing their own bill and explaining. And, as we know in politics, when you’re explaining, you’re losing.
Senate Republicans scuttled broad legislation last night to curtail lobbyists’ influence and tighten congressional ethics rules, refusing to let the bill pass without a vote on an unrelated measure that would give President Bush virtual line-item-veto power.
The bill could be brought back up later this year. Indeed, Democrats will try one last time today to break the impasse. But its unexpected collapse last night infuriated Democrats and the government watchdog groups that had been pushing it since the lobbying scandals that rocked the last Congress. Proponents charged that Republicans had used the spending-control measure as a ruse to thwart ethics rules they dared not defeat in a straight vote.
Considering the line-item veto was found to be unconstitutional in 1998, and the GOP had the last six years to pass a workaround and chose not to, I am hard pressed to figure out how the Democrats are in the wrong here.
Oh, and for double special bonus chutzpah, the GOP filibustered:
The bill was to be the Democratic-controlled Senate’s first piece of legislation, a statement of bipartisanship and a break from the scandals that helped return the party to power. Instead, a measure that began with Reid and McConnell as co-sponsors was chased from the floor in a partisan showdown when Republicans prevented the Democratic leadership from bringing it to a vote. The 51 to 46 vote was nowhere close to the two-thirds majority needed to break the Republican filibuster.
There was no mention of the much loved GOP nuclear option. I wish I could honestly support the line item amendment, but I know damned well that as soon as it looks like it would pass, the Republicans would no longer want it. Right now it is a convenient tool to be used against the Democrats, but you don’t need to be too cynical to realize they don;t really care about ethics reform. If they did, they would recognize their amendment failed, and move on with the proposed reform (which although not perfect, is better than no reform at all). They want an issue, they want their earmarks, but they do not want ethics reform.
*** Update ***
I am aware this is not a line-item veto. Which is why I did not call it that. I stated that the LIV was found unconstitutional in the late 90’s, and they had plenty of time to find a workaround (such as this) in thepast six years. But they didn’t. Why not?
Because they don’t care.
I would love to give Presidents the authority to strike wasteful spending from bills, but I do not know if it is legal, I do not know if it will be passed (and it won’t now), and I additionally don’t know anymore, after this administration, if I trust Presidents with this authority. For all I know, Bush would use it and decide we simply do not need the Department of Education.
Given all that, I still care about reform. So rather than be a petulant chilkd (like the Senate Republicans), I would accept I am not in the majority anymore, and vote for the ethics reform they are advancing. While not perfect, it is better than what is out there now. Instead, the GOP has chosen to block it and has delivered us:
They, however, have an issue and rightwing blogs can now babble incessantly (as Red State already as) about how the Republicans are the real reformers. How do they get the title of real reformers? By blocking the reform package.
Up is down. Black is white. You don’t need to worry unless you are doing something wrong.