March 6, 2010

HUH?:

Taking the Long View: Democrats nervous about voting for health-care reform should look back to lessons of the 1994 crime bill. (Eleanor Clift, Mar 5, 2010, Newsweek)

The bill expanded the federal death penalty to dozens more crimes, funded more prison construction, and promised 100,000 more cops on the street, President Clinton's signature proposal. It passed the House handily (285 to 141) and was joined in an omnibus crime bill with other more controversial legislation, notably a ban on assault weapons, which survived by a single vote in the House when a Democrat from Indiana switched from no to yes. Jim Kessler, a policy analyst at Third Way, worked on the bill as an aide to New York Rep. Chuck Schumer (now a senator), who was the principal sponsor in the House. He says the 100,000 cops were popular; the assault weapons ban controversial but necessary; the weak link in the chain was money for youth sports leagues, which Rush Limbaugh dubbed "midnight basketball."

Opening community centers on weekend nights to get kids off the streets was emblematic of the crime-prevention programs in the bill, and it was enough for Republicans to ridicule the $30 billion bill as out-of-control Washington, liberal do-gooder spending. With crack wars getting headlines, voters were poised to punish politicians who were soft on crime.

Democrats were able to pass the bill, and when members went home to their districts for the August recess, only then did they realize how much trouble they were in with the voters.


So nervous Democrats should take comfort that they're just repeating the mistakes of the last Democrat Congress?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 6, 2010 11:19 AM
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