While the Democratic presidential candidates lined up to pander one last time to those likely to participate in the Iowa Caucus in January, there was a background story going on in Washington that you may not have heard much about.
Harry Reid and the rest of the Senate Democrats had been working for over a week to try and pass a couple of tax increases disguised as an energy bill. Mitch McConnell and the conservative wing of the Senate Republicans weren’t buying it, and neither was President Bush, who had threatened to veto the bill if passed.
McConnell, who quietly had himself another fine day Thursday, told Reid that he would clear the energy bill, but only if the two tax increases buried in it were removed. The utility rate increase was removed, but the tax increase proposal was actually raised over the last week, to almost $22 billion dollars. It was a deal killer, and everyone on both sides of the aisle, in both Houses of Congress, knew it. Yet Senator Reid inexplicably chose to make Thursday his latest last stand on energy reform.
Now since the Democrats insisted on keeping the tax increase in the bill, it meant that they were going to have to get 60 votes to invoke cloture before they could try and pass it. Then the bill would be sent to a certain death by presidential veto. It was a doomed bill, and a clear waste of everybody’s time. In other words, Thursday was just a typical day in the Senate under Democratic leadership, 2007. How did the vote go? 59-40-1, one shy of invoking cloture and clearing the hurdle to full passage in the Senate.
Remember the Democrats on stage in Iowa mid-day Thursday? Four of them are current United States Senators: Barack Obama, Hillary ‘Hand-raiser’ Clinton, Joe Biden and Christopher Dodd. They were all called back to Washington Thursday morning to cast this energy vote, and then they all bailed out immediately after the Senate session to return to the debate stage in Iowa. Anyone out there able to calculate the energy expended from four round-trip airplane rides to D.C. and back for a failed vote on a polluted energy bill? What about the carbon footprint left by the Democrats Thursday alone, and the irony of Hillary Clinton trying to get the ridiculous debate moderator to do a hand-raising of the candidates on who believes in global warming and mankind’s impact on it?
Later in the afternoon, Harry Reid finally gave up on his tax increase, stripped it out of the bill, and resubmitted it for cloture. It passed 86-8. Clinton, Dodd, Obama and Biden couldn't be in two places at once, so they didn't get to vote. Now the bill goes back to the House, where they've unfortunately wrapped up their one vote workweek this week, so they’ve all scattered home for a long weekend. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Majority Leader Reid are now so frustrated at their respective lack of leadership skills in their respective chambers that they are now taking shots at each other. Nothing says Merry Christmas to Republicans like Democrat politicians engaged in a circular firing squad.
For those of you who continue to think that fate is already predetermined that in January ’09, Hillary Clinton will reside in the White House with a bigger House majority and a filibuster-proof Senate, I’m just not seeing it. Hillary, while still most likely a lock for the nomination, increasingly looks more vulnerable as the weeks pass by. Democrats in both Houses of Congress are clearly in disarray, while the Republicans seem to have stiffened their spines as Iraq continues to stabilize.
In sports, many teams have been statistically better on paper, but when they actually had to play the game, the result was not what was expected. If the President continues to show that he finally remembers what fiscal responsibility means, if Mitch McConnell continues to thump Harry Reid at virtually every turn, and if the party of the elephant uses their long memory when faced with a potential Hillary Clinton presidency, our chances continue to improve for next November.