We’re in need of some fresh, hot tea, and not just because it’s been so cold outside.
Senate Democrats — and some Republican accomplices — want to defy the will of the voters and have one last big-government hurrah. If there was ever a moment for tea partiers to prove to everyone that they’re not going away, this is it.
The immediate threat is a $1.1 trillion spending bill, with some 6,500 earmarks in its nearly 2,000 pages, which Senate Democrats suddenly unveiled Tuesday and want to pass ASAP. The bill would essentially freeze the bloated federal budget through the end of this fiscal year.
In every respect, this is the kind of action voters rejected at the ballot box last month. It is a budget-busting, debt-inducing, written-in-the-dark and rammed-through-before-daylight bill.
Democrats didn’t have the courage to pass such a spending bonanza before the election. They knew the public would punish them for it, and they took the unusual step of refusing to pass an appropriations bill (actually, 12 appropriations bills rolled into one “omnibus” spending package). Well, they refused to do so before now, anyway.
That they punted on this most basic of congressional duties before the election, just to avoid voter scrutiny, is bad enough. But it’s even worse that they are carrying on even after voters handed them the broadest, deepest electoral defeat for either of the major parties in decades: 63 lost seats in the U.S. House and more than 675 in state legislatures. The latter reflects a more decisive repudiation of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid Democrats than Republicans suffered after Watergate.
It’s as if we caught the thieves in our house red-handed, and they’re trying to stuff a few more pieces of jewelry in their bags before they flee.
To be fair, it’s not just Democrats at fault here. The Dems can’t get this monstrosity through the Senate without at least a few GOP collaborators, and four Republicans reportedly are considering such a betrayal.
Two of them, Ohio’s George Voinovich and Missouri’s Kit Bond, are retiring. A third, Utah’s Bob Bennett, lost this spring in a GOP primary that was largely fought on fiscal issues. The fourth, Maine’s Susan Collins, is no stranger to siding with Senate Democrats rather than conservative principles. Whatever their motivation, they are flouting the will of the voters.
So, too, are a number of Republicans who have inserted earmarks into the bill. One examination of the bill found just eight of the Senate’s 42 current Republicans requested zero earmarks. The Senate’s top two earmarkers in this round of pork appear to be Mississippi Republicans Thad Cochran (230 earmarks) and Roger Wicker (199).
Another 42 earmarks were tied to Georgia’s Saxby Chambliss, with 24 more from our senior senator, Johnny Isakson. It’s small consolation that they and most Republicans say they won’t vote for the bill even though it contains money for their pet pork projects.
Should the bill pass, House Republicans could do much more when they take the reins in January than merely rescinding the earmarks. They also ought to pass a bill ending the practice of holding lame-duck sessions, in which politicians can thumb their collective nose at voters’ demands. And then they should dare the Senate and President Barack Obama not to go along with them.
But if we’re going to get such results, much less keep the Senate from spending another $1.1 trillion in the first place, we need to see and hear a strong protest from tea partiers. Now’s the time to show they wanted to do more than elect some more spendthrift Republicans.
– By Kyle Wingfield
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