Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Senate still sucks...

I call your attention to a specific portion of last night’s State of the Union Address:

Now, even after paying for what we spent on my watch, we'll still face the massive deficit we had when I took office. More importantly, the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will continue to skyrocket. That's why I've called for a bipartisan fiscal commission, modeled on a proposal by Republican Judd Gregg and Democrat Kent Conrad. This can't be one of those Washington gimmicks that lets us pretend we solved a problem. The commission will have to provide a specific set of solutions by a certain deadline.

Now, yesterday, the Senate blocked a bill that would have created this commission. So I'll issue an executive order that will allow us to go forward, because I refuse to pass this problem on to another generation of Americans. And when the vote comes tomorrow, the Senate should restore the pay-as-you-go law that was a big reason for why we had record surpluses in the 1990s.

Well, the good news is that this very afternoon, the Senate finally passed Pay-Go, allowing it to be sent to the President’s desk.

The bad news is, it was a 60-40 Party Line vote.

This party line vote, includes such alleged deficit hawks as John McCain and Olympia Snowe, both of whom voted for PayGo under Bush 43, but voted against it now.

Four Republican senators who opposed the measure on Thursday voted for nearly an identical measure in 2006.

That list includes Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both moderates from Maine, George Voinovich, the retiring Senator from Ohio, and John McCain, the party's standard-bearer in the 2008 presidential elections.
What prompted the four to switch isn't entirely clear. The respective pieces of legislation are not that far apart, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office confirmed.

It’s pretty damn clear to me. The Republicans are still committed to failure, specifically they want to make sure this President fails. That's all that matters, that's all they'll ever vote for...even the so-called moderates. They've calculated that political interest outweighs country.

(This is also why I'm pessimistic of any strategy by the House to send a comprehensive Health Bill back to the Senate. If Republicans aren't willing to vote for something as common-sense as PayGo, what hope is there that they'll cross the aisle for Health Care Reform?)

Now, interestingly Senator Elect Scott Brown (R-MA) has said that he might vote along Democratic lines in some cases. Well, that’s obvious, because it’s his @#$ if he doesn’t. He’s going to be running again in 2012. He’s running in a state that Obama’ll carry by 10-20 points (yes, even now). He’s running in a Presidential Election cycle, where turnout will be far, far, far higher than it was this January. If he has any hope of re-election, he needs to blunt the passions of the opposition (me). Voting even occasionally Democratic does that.

On the other hand, how he would have voted for PayGo is a mystery.

I also need to take a moment and point out (as Randi Rhodes pointed out this afternoon) that the House passed their PayGo back in July. It just took the Senate six months more to the do the same.

Thanks again, Senate. You still suck. (Ironically, this was one of the messages of the State of the Union).