Friday, January 22, 2010

The Daily Strike-1/22/10-Devastating Realization

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike, where we will close out a dark, dark week in politics. I think we could all use a relaxing weekend full of football and anything else that can take our minds off of what has happened this past week. Leave some comments! I appreciated the comment left on our last entry, you're keeping us socialists on our toes!

WHY I'M DEPRESSED: Scott Brown's victory in the Massachusetts Senate race was depressing for a number of reasons, but it was seemingly most devastating because Democrats lost their 60-vote filibuster-proof majority. Yesterday, though, it occurred to me that Democrats have gotten very little done with this majority. After a productive legislative session in May and June, in which Democrats passed good anti-tobacco and credit card legislation, Congress has passed hardly any major pieces of legislation. We have completely squandered our opportunity and responsibility to govern.

I blame this mostly on the Senate. The House has taken the lead in passing Cap-and-Trade, financial regulation, a progressive health reform bill, and a jobs bill. But the House has adopted the attitude that since they've done the heavy lifting, they should shift the burden over to the Senate. As a result, the House has been pretty much stagnant (besides the health care bill) for the last several months.

I know that the big ticket items are complicated and politically risky. I get that. But Congress hasn't even passed the sort of small, progressive measures that help people in their everyday lives. The Senate has yet to take up the President's student loan bill. They haven't taken up a bipartisan food safety bill. They haven't even unveiled any sort of jobs package, even something little, like tax breaks for small businesses or clean energy projects.

There is a lot of blame to go around for this inaction. The Republicans have used nihilistic delay tactics that have made legislating extremely difficult. But the Democrats have let them use these tactics and haven't challenged them aggressively in the public arena.

Democratic politicians have been telling us that if we just vote for enough of them, they will help solve the problems of working people. We have given them full control of government, and it is starting to hit me that they have done very little. This is painfully disappointing to me.

BERNANKE: Something very interesting is happening right now in the United States Senate. Ben Bernanke, the current Fed chairman, needs 60 Senate votes to be confirmed for another 4 year term. So far, about 14 Democrats have indicated that the plan to vote against him. That means that Bernanke needs the support of 15 Republicans. Majority Leader Reid had wanted a vote on his nomination in the next couple of weeks, but he has so far been unable to line up enough support. I sympathize with the opposition. Bernanke oversaw our financial system when it completely crashed, and he completely failed to anticipate the effects of the housing crisis. He has, however, done a decent job since the crisis occurred in 2008. It looks like his nomination might fail, which could really throw a lot of things into flux. It would also be more proof of the populist uprising in this country that swept Brown to victory in Massachusetts. Obama would have to nominate someone else, and ideally he would choose someone who cares about protecting consumers from the excesses of Wall Street, like Elizabeth Warren (who oversees the TARP watchdog group). We'll have more on the Bernanke nomination on Monday.

That's it for now. I'd rather not discuss my continued anger about House Democrats' refusal to take up the Senate bill.

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