Monday, July 23, 2007

Good Politics vs Good Policy

I’m not the first to lament the state of politics today. It may not actually be any different than in the past, but to me it seems like it is getting worse. Something that may be good politics is often bad policy. The Republicans were guilty of this in recent years by forcing votes on topics such as flag burning and gay marriage. While these issues resonate with their base, they have very little to do with most Americans but forced Democrats to take a stand that they could later use against them in a campaign. As a Massachusetts resident I can tell you that legalizing gay marriage has neither devalued nor had any impact on my marriage nor has it had any impact to me or my family at all, but if you listen to the campaigns it was a sign of the end of civilization.

This past election, the Democrats were able to find their own “wedge” issues. One issue was a minimum wage hike and the other was stem cell research. In fairness to the Dems, these actually have much more meaningful impact on more people. Where do we stand today on these key Democratic Priorities? Nowhere, the Democrats have largely stopped pushing the issue on these two important issues. Why? Do they think they can not pass legislation? I suspect they are holding both issues around for another election cycle at the expense of their constituents.

What important legislation are they passing instead? The Senate last week voted 87 to 1 increasing the reward on Osama Bin Laden from $25 mil to $50 mil. Does anyone really think that someone living in a mud hut in Pakistan is going to change their mind on giving him up? Was $25 mil really not enough? Thank you Conservative Jim Bunning for voting against this stupidity if for no other reason other than wasting his time.

Recently I was contacted by the Democratic National Senatorial Campaign for a donation. Last year around election time, I made a donation to the DNSC. This year I have no interest in doing that. Although I am somewhat pleased with actions of some of the freshman class (Jim Webb and Clair MacAskill in particular) , I am largely disappointed in the whole lot. It's time to be more demanding of our public officials and for now I'll be keeping my money thank you.

After writing this post I came across an article which goes into more detail

Posted on Sat, Jul. 21, 2007

Senate tied in knots by filibusters
Margaret Talev | McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: July 20, 2007 03:43:22 PM

WASHINGTON — This year Senate Republicans are threatening filibusters to block more legislation than ever before, a pattern that's rooted in — and could increase — the pettiness and dysfunction in Congress.

The trend has been evolving for 30 years. The reasons behind it are too complex to pin on one party. But it has been especially pronounced since the Democrats' razor-thin win in last year's election, giving them effectively a 51-49 Senate majority, and the Republicans' exile to the minority.

Seven months into the current two-year term, the Senate has held 42 "cloture" votes aimed at shutting off extended debate — filibusters, or sometimes only the threat of one — and moving to up-or-down votes on contested legislation. Under Senate rules that protect a minority's right to debate, these votes require a 60-vote supermajority in the 100-member Senate.

Democrats have trouble mustering 60 votes; they've fallen short 22 times so far this year. That's largely why they haven't been able to deliver on their campaign promises.

By sinking a cloture vote this week, Republicans successfully blocked a Democratic bid to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by April, even though a 52-49 Senate majority voted to end debate.

This year Republicans also have blocked votes on immigration legislation, a no-confidence resolution for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and major legislation dealing with energy, labor rights and prescription drugs.

Rest of the article here:

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