Dec 23rd, 2010
by F. Grey Parker
It has been a remarkable "lame-duck" session of congress. There is no disputing that. From the repeal of DADT to the ratification of the new START treaty to the 11th hour passage of the 9/11 responders bill, it has been a whirlwind of victories for President Barack Obama. These were also all victories for the American people. How easily we forget that a mere 7 days ago, the people were handed an equally significant defeat when Sen Harry Reid (D-NV) pulled the omnibus spending bill.
In the glow of the aforementioned accomplishments, we have all but ceased discussion of the fact that our government is technically not funded through the current fiscal year. Considering the American people's overwhelming response to these other last minute initiatives, the failure to hold a full floor debate on the omnibus spending bill seems all the more unforgivable. As I argued last week, we didn't have to win that fight. The fight for the bill was more important than it's passage.
The average citizen should have been given the opportunity to witness openly just whom is on their side and what the next round's stakes are. Aside from the most rabidly libertarian and the incredibly uninformed, the politically educated know that earmarks aren't bad; Rather, BAD earmarks are bad. It's as simple as that.
After thirty years of misguided Reaganomic extremism and radical "free-marketeerism," the earmark has become one of the primary tools to fix infrastructure, secure the stability of utilities in trouble and support research that pays off roughly 10 fold for the health and well being of the country. Most Republicans know this to be true but chose to play cynical little games during the election for short term political capital.
Majority leader Sen. Harry Reid gave up without any of these points being made in front of the people. To be sure, the far-right of the Republican party has been given pause by the last few day's Democratic successes. But Reid's failure to set up the grassroots of the left to start pushing back now against the incoming Republican majority house is an error of epic proportions. The right is not so much licking their wounds as they are rubbing their hands together.
As the 112th congress-of-crazy rolls in, we should be prepared for a full shutdown of the federal government and blistering fights waged by those who piously spout platitudes about America while simultaneously attempting to undermine the last 70 years of progress that define her.
I will concede that we do have a much stronger figure in President Obama than we did even 4 weeks ago. It may be all up to him and the bully pulpit. If I had Obama's ear, I would simply say this:
"Fight like Teddy Roosevelt, man. Because these guys are assholes!"