October 29, 2006


There are rewards in this 'what if' scenario in Congress (DAVID S. BRODER, 10/28/06, Houston Chronicle)

It was, in the president's judgment, "a tricky little question" that Stephen Dinan of The Washington Times asked — one that seemingly caught him by surprise.

"With a Republican Congress," Dinan said, "you failed to achieve three major goals of your second term: Social Security reform, a tax code overhaul and a comprehensive immigration bill. Why shouldn't Americans give Democrats a chance to work with you on those issues, especially when divided government seemed to work in the late 1990s on the budget?"

When the president recovered from his surprise at the question from the conservative newspaper's correspondent, he went into his familiar assertive, told-you-so mode. "First," he said, "I haven't given up on any of those issues. I've got two years left to achieve them. And I firmly believe it is more likely to achieve those three objectives with a Republican-controlled Congress and a Republican-controlled Senate. And I believe I'll be working with a Republican-controlled Congress and a Republican-controlled Senate."

Bush went on for four paragraphs spelling out his belief that Republicans would defy the pollsters and pundits and win the Nov. 7 election, segued into a rap about the joys of electioneering and wound up by telling the questioner, "Anyway, thanks for asking about the campaign."

At no point did he venture within six feet of the original question — and it's not hard to see why. He's not yet ready to think of Democrats except as opponents. But the premise of Dinan's question is historically correct. It was the combination of a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, and the Republican Congress elected in 1994 that finally got a grip on budget deficits and produced the only balanced budgets of modern times.

The President would happily sign immigration reform, if the Democrats could get it past a republican filibuster, but there's a touching naivete to the notion that they've any interest in beginning the privatization of Social Security or the flattening of taxes, and shifting them from income to consumption, just because those things are good policy and are being pursued in the rest of the Anglosphere by parties of both Left and Right. You'd think Mr. Broder would have seen enough of politics to lose the delusion that Democrats are primarily interested in good government rather than liberal ideology. He even misses his own point: Bill Clinton could only achieve the two things for which he'll be remembered--two free trade bills and Welfare Reform--because the GOP overrode his own party.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 29, 2006 9:32 PM

"produced the only balanced budgets of modern times",which never happened. They also projected a surplus in 2001, and as far as they could see, which wasn't too far. The surplus never materialized, neither does the huge deficit that was predicted for 2006. The 2006 deficit is less than that of 2004. Unlike our check books which need to be balanced, else our checks would bounce, the federal ledger does not have to balance. In fact, it is better to keep a small deficit. The reasons for which cannot be explained here. A surplus is a definite no-no, because a surplus means the tax-payers are paying too much tax. A large deficit means the politicians are spending too much of our money. A small deficit, however, keeps the economy warm and humming.

It seems someone sense that those "scandals" can't push the Dems over the top. Now they are afraid "it is the economy, stupid" after all. Ergo, they fear monger the imminent collapse of our thriving economy if the Congress does not change hand comes Nov., and that we are better off having a divided govt. Whereas in the 1990's, every tom and jerry of the MSM bemoaned a divided govt. for not getting anything done.

I wonder what they would say in 2008 if the Congress has changed hand this time around. Will Hillary be in jeopardy then? Will the MSM support a Rep to the presidencey to guarantee a divided govt? Fortunately, we'll never know because the Congress is not going to flip this cycle.

Posted by: ic at October 29, 2006 10:40 PM

They've had 6 years to work together, they've chosen not to.

Why would having them in the majority be different?

How does he think SS got stopped? Who led the cheers?

Posted by: Sandy P at October 29, 2006 11:08 PM

The assumption being that the Stupid Party has learned nothing from Democrat minority party obstructionism, but will revert to Bob Michael '70s/'80s-style "Get-Along-Go-Along"ism. (Which, all things considered, isn't a bad assumption.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 29, 2006 11:55 PM

If the Republicans in Congress wanted to pass SS reform, it would pass. Bush gave them enough cover - they quivered and shrank away.

The GOP doesn't need 60 votes, just enough critters on the Hill who can tell the truth. There are enough voters who can read a graph. The Dems could not filibuster a powerful reform bill, especially if the GOP started running ads showing the Dems applauding wildly when Bush accosted them in the SOTU.

Medicare is more difficult, because a 40 year-old doesn't want to think about being 65 (and possibly dependent on the government).

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 30, 2006 12:13 AM

They need 60 votes in the Senate and don't have them. Period. That's the kind of inanity the whiny Right is spouting that will just hand seats to the Democrats next month.

Posted by: oj at October 30, 2006 12:22 AM


A solid reform package would have gotten at least 5 or 6 Democratic votes (Ben Nelson, Landrieu, possibly Bill Nelson, maybe Baucus, perhaps Bingaman, and maybe even the biggest fish of all - Hillary).

Sure, the Dems wrapped themselves around FDR and jumped up and down - but their power to frighten is gone. GONE. Too many Americans are 35, 40, and 45 and wondering if they will get anything from SS. Perhaps Bush's mistake was not having a bullet-proof champion on the Hill (somebody who can't lose an election on this issue). It seemed to me that no Republican in Congress (other than Rick Santorum) took this SS reform to heart. With that kind of pottage, even if they have 67 votes in the Senate, they won't reform jack.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 30, 2006 9:24 AM

No, it wouldn't have. It would have gotten Nelson and lost several Republicans. then Democrats would have run demagogic ads against several Republicans who voted in favor. It was all downside. There is no need to reform the program, it just makes sense. No one wins elections on sense.

Posted by: oj at October 30, 2006 11:28 AM

All of the negative adds I've seen have focused on the Republican and Democrat accusing each other of favoring amnesty for illegal immigrants. If the Democrats control Congress and manage to pass an amnesty bill, yes Bush would sign it. But they would all pay the price in the 2008 elections, he wouldn't. Ergom there won't be an amnesty bill in the next Congress.

Posted by: Brandon at October 30, 2006 11:53 AM

The GOP can run demagogic ads, too. SS reform is a winning issue for the Republicans. How can the Dems win if all they can do is fall all over a dead man in a wheelchair?

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 30, 2006 2:16 PM

It's a winning issue but an easy one for the Left to demagogue. The system works, so changing it is scary.

Posted by: oj at October 30, 2006 2:30 PM