View Poll Results: New majorities in House and Senate... how they rate?

Voters
81. You may not vote on this poll
  • Republican, approve of Congress/Senate

    3 3.70%
  • Republican, disapprove of Congress/Senate

    24 29.63%
  • Republican, undecided about Congress/Senate

    1 1.23%
  • Democrat, approve of Congress/Senate

    8 9.88%
  • Democrat, disapprove of Congress/Senate

    6 7.41%
  • Democrat, undecided about Congress/Senate

    3 3.70%
  • Independent/Other, approve Congress/Senate

    2 2.47%
  • Independent/other, disapprove of Congress/Senate

    27 33.33%
  • Independent/Other, undecided about Congress/Senate

    3 3.70%
  • Other (Will explain in great lengths in the thread)

    4 4.94%
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  1. #31
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    Re: Democrat controlled Congress Approval Ratings

    Democrats Find Ethics Overhaul Elusive in House

    House Democratic leaders pushing a promised lobbying overhaul are facing resistance from balky lawmakers and fending off accusations that a prominent member is flouting new ethics rules.

    The Democratic leaders were forced to scrap a promise to double the current one-year lobbying ban after lawmakers leave office. Now, they are struggling to pass legislation requiring lobbyists to disclose the campaign contributions they “bundle” — collect and deliver — to lawmakers. Failing to deliver on both measures would endanger similar provisions already passed by the Senate.

    Other House rules changes this year appear to have done little to alter business as usual on Capitol Hill. House Democrats voted along party lines on Tuesday to block the censure of one of their most powerful members, Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania. He was accused of violating a new ethics rule that prohibits lawmakers from swapping pork for votes.
    ...

    Some newly elected Democrats say they worry about potential perceptions that their party has failed to deliver its promised cleanup. “Many of the freshmen ran on a campaign of, as Speaker Pelosi would say, ‘draining the swamp,’ on ethics and ethics enforcement,” said Representative Ed Perlmutter, a first-term Colorado Democrat.
    Murtha-fest SOLD OUT

    Murtha-fest SOLD OUT

    At the end of this month, Rep. John Murtha, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, will be attending the Showcase for Commerce in Johnstown, PA, a defense industry trade show that, despite its remote location, draws some of the biggest names in the business as both sponsors and exhibitors. Why? The DEW Line informs us:

    Perhaps the booth-agent legions of the defense industry are flowing into Johnstown for this event like a gushing river -- oops, bad metaphor! -- because they like the late-spring weather near Dutch Country.

    Another possible explanation could be the proximity to Murtha, who is famous for many things but certainly well-known as the King of Earmarks. That word -- earmarks -- is the polite term for lawmakers using their anonymous discretion to fatten an already bloated federal budget with their favorite spending projects. Murtha's prime seat on the defense appropriations committee makes him a key benefactor, and he is known to love this part of the job.

    Our spies in industry report that many attendees have another name for this annual weekend affair: Murtha-fest.

    That was written before Murtha's latest embarrassment, in which he "stormed to the [House] floor during a vote to threaten GOP Rep. Mike Rogers that he would cut off all pork for Rogers’ district after he worked to kill a Murtha earmark in an Intelligence bill." That tantrum, a technical violation of House ethics rules, forced the Democrats to avoid a House vote to reprimand the Pennsylvania congressmen.

    In today's edition of the Hill, "industry sources" and "sources familiar" with Murtha-fest weigh in anonymously on the event and its rise to prominence:

    “[Murtha's performance] can be a little bit heavy-handed,” one source familiar with the event said, adding that there is an expectation that a number of local jobs and contracts come out of the show.

    “It would be important to get some face-time with him,” said one industry source who will attend this year. “He remembers who is who and he remembers everybody’s pitch.”

    The paper goes on:

    Murtha, the largest recipient of defense-industry contributions, had star power in the industry even before he became the chairman. Murtha, Thomson said, devotes personal attention to the ins and outs of the show.

    In just three months this year Murtha raised more than $733 million, the largest amount of anyone on the committee and six times more than he raised in the same period two years ago.

    More than 80 percent of the contributors have business before Murtha’s defense panel, according to data gathered by watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense. Among the largest donors is DRS Technologies with $21 million. A unit of DRS (DRS Laurel technologies) is based in Johnstown.

    Eager to see for myself just how business is done at Murtha-fest, I contacted the Showcase for Commerce ten days ago to get my name on the press list for the General Dynamics-sponsored breakfast with Murtha on the final day of the show. There was only one problem: I was told that access to the breakfast had to be cleared by Murtha's office, as would any waiver for the $300 registration fee. Well, that was more than a week ago. I called back today to check on the status: the breakfast is sold out. Heavy-handed? Nah.
    In the Democratic Congress, Pork Still Gets Served

    In the Democratic Congress, Pork Still Gets Served
    'Phonemarking' Is Among Ways Around Appropriations Process

    By John Solomon and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Thursday, May 24, 2007; A01

    When the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives passed one of its first spending bills, funding the Energy Department for the rest of 2007, it proudly boasted that the legislation contained no money earmarked for lawmakers' pet projects and stressed that any prior congressional requests for such spending "shall have no legal effect."

    Within days, however, lawmakers including Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) began directly contacting the Energy Department. They sought to secure money for their favorite causes outside of the congressional appropriations process -- a practice that lobbyists and appropriations insiders call "phonemarking."

    "I understand some of your offices have begun to receive requests from some Congressional offices asking that the department continue to fund programs or activities that received earmarked funds in prior years," department chief of staff Jeffrey Kupfer wrote in a stern Feb. 2 memo, warning agency officials to approve money only for "programs or activities that are meritorious."

    The number of earmarks, in which lawmakers target funds to specific spending projects, exploded over the past decade from about 3,000 in 1996 to more than 13,000 in 2006, according to the Congressional Research Service. Most earmarks made it into appropriations bills or their accompanying conference reports without identifying their sponsors. Upon taking control of Congress after November's midterm elections, Democrats vowed to try to halve the number of earmarks, and to require lawmakers to disclose their requests and to certify that the money they are requesting will not benefit them.

    But the new majority is already skirting its own reforms.

    Perhaps the biggest retreat from that pledge came this week, when House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey (D-Wis.) told fellow lawmakers that he intends to keep requests for earmarks out of pending spending bills, at least for now. Obey said the committee will deal with them at the end of the appropriations process in the closed-door meetings between House and Senate negotiators known as conference committees.

    Democrats had complained bitterly in recent years that Republicans routinely slipped multimillion-dollar pet projects into spending bills at the end of the legislative process, preventing any chance for serious public scrutiny. Now Democrats are poised to do the same.

    "I don't give a damn if people criticize me or not," Obey said.

    Obey's spokeswoman, Kirstin Brost, said his intention is not to keep the projects secret. Rather, she said, so many requests for spending were made to the appropriations panel -- more than 30,000 this year -- that its staff has been unable to study them and decide their validity.

    "I have to sign off on that stuff," Obey said. "And I'm going to make damn sure that we've done everything we can do to make sure that they're legitimate projects, so that you don't get embarrassed by some idiot who is putting in money for a project that happens to benefit himself and his wife."
    "The most dangerous myth is the demagoguery that business can be made to pay a larger share, thus relieving the individual. Politicians preaching this are either deliberately dishonest, or economically illiterate, and either one should scare us...
    Only people pay taxes, and people pay as consumers every tax that is assessed against a business."


    -The Gipper


  2. #32
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    Re: Democrat controlled Congress Approval Ratings

    Lobbyist Cash Changes Democratic Ethics Debate

    Lobbyist Cash Changes Democratic Ethics Debate

    Yesterday it seemed House Democrats would punt on ethics reform. But today the wind is shifting. Apparently Dems have decided not to go home this Memorial Day weekend without something to show their constituents (besides a much-delayed Iraq bill favored by the president).

    A major problem in organizing the debate is the fact that Democrats are taking in too much lobbyist-arranged cash to want to limit it:

    Steve Elmendorf, the principal lobbyist for Elmendorf Strategies, held a breakfast fundraiser for Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) on Feb. 8.

    Elmendorf said he did not remember the fundraiser for Frank because he hosts so many events.

    “I do fundraising breakfasts almost every week for someone,” he said. “Fifteen or 20 people show up and write their checks. There’s nothing unusual about it.”
    When the House debates ethics legislation today, it will have to tackle “bundling"--whereby lobbyists like Elmendorf arrange contributions--separately:

    The disclosure proposal will still get a vote today—but as a stand-alone measure. Assuming it passes, the plan is to add it back to the reform package in conference talks with the Senate. A reform bill Senators approved earlier this year included a more broadly drawn bundling provision.
    In preparing for the vote, Democrats blocked Republican efforts to offer as many as 13 more amendments. (The committee report summarizes the amendments and the votes). Among the amendments rejected:

    * random audits of lobbyist disclosures, with criminal referrals for lawbreaking;
    * blocking convicted felons from registering as lobbyists,
    * prohibiting the use of federal funds for lobbying for earmarks;
    * establishing an independent, outside entity to investigate corruption by Members of Congress; and,
    * preventing diplomats and CIA chiefs from lobbying for certain foreign governments.

    These seem commonsensical. Why are House Dems blocking debate?
    "The most dangerous myth is the demagoguery that business can be made to pay a larger share, thus relieving the individual. Politicians preaching this are either deliberately dishonest, or economically illiterate, and either one should scare us...
    Only people pay taxes, and people pay as consumers every tax that is assessed against a business."


    -The Gipper


  3. #33
    Joined
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    8,887

    Re: Democrat controlled Congress Approval Ratings

    CNN has a video about Congress' spending habits. I can't find a way to link to it, though, so you'll just have to go take a look at CNN's video page:

    http://www.cnn.com/video/
    Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

  4. #34
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    Re: Democrat controlled Congress Approval Ratings

    "The most dangerous myth is the demagoguery that business can be made to pay a larger share, thus relieving the individual. Politicians preaching this are either deliberately dishonest, or economically illiterate, and either one should scare us...
    Only people pay taxes, and people pay as consumers every tax that is assessed against a business."


    -The Gipper


  5. #35
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    Re: Democrat controlled Congress Approval Ratings

    Republican Votes Make the Difference

    Republican Votes Make the Difference

    It was a busy day in the House of Representatives, with action on both the Iraq funding legislation and a major ethics reform measure. On the ethics front--and with Democratic dissension forcing votes on two separate measures--Republicans provided 195 of the 218 votes needed to pass a strengthening of ethics rules opposed by 85 percent of the Democratic caucus:

    Democrats who campaigned successfully last year against a “culture of corruption” in the Republican-controlled Congress found themselves one-upped today when more than 30 of their own members voted for a GOP motion to strengthen the package.

    By 228-192, the House adopted a motion by Lamar Smith, R-Texas, to recommit the first of two lobbying bills — a measure requiring quarterly disclosure by lobbyists of bundled contributions to candidates and party units — to broaden the disclosure requirement to cover bundled donations to other PACs as well...

    The leadership and other veteran House Democrats have taken a beating in recent days in newspaper editorials, talk radio shows and Internet blogs for backing away from tougher ethics measures. House Republicans have been hammering them as well, and are relishing the chance to create mischief on the House floor.
    A step in the right direction.
    "The most dangerous myth is the demagoguery that business can be made to pay a larger share, thus relieving the individual. Politicians preaching this are either deliberately dishonest, or economically illiterate, and either one should scare us...
    Only people pay taxes, and people pay as consumers every tax that is assessed against a business."


    -The Gipper


  6. #36
    Joined
    Aug 2001
    Posts
    74,684

    Re: Democrat controlled Congress Approval Ratings

    The “new direction” Democrats have taken in the last five months breaks down as follows:

    13 BILLS TO NAME FEDERAL PROPERTY & BUILD A ROAD
    • H.R. 49 - To name the “Gerald R. Ford, Jr. Post Office Building”
    • H.R. 335 - To name the “Gale W. McGee Post Office”
    • H.R. 342 - To name the “Rush Hudson Limbaugh, Sr. United States Courthouse” [!!]
    • H.R. 433 - To name the “Scipio A. Jones Post Office Building”
    • H.R. 514 - To name the “Sergeant Lea Robert Mills Brooksville Aviation Branch Post Office”
    • H.R. 521 - To name the “Lane Evans Post Office Building”
    • H.R. 544 - To name the “Santiago E. Campos United States Courthouse”
    • H.R. 577 - To name the “Sergeant Henry Ybarra III Post Office Building”
    • H.R. 584 - To name the “Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building”
    • H.R. 753 – To name the “Clifford Davis & Odell Horton Federal Building”
    • H.R. 1129 - To build and maintain a road in St. Louis County, Missouri
    • S.159 – To name the “Robert T. Stafford White Rocks National Recreation Area”
    • S. 521 – To name the “Gerald W. Heaney Federal Building & United States Courthouse & Customhouse”

    5 BILLS TO EXTEND PRE-EXISTING PUBLIC LAW OR PASSED LAST YEAR
    • H.R. 137 – Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act (passed last year)
    • H.R. 188 - To extend the Thomas Alva Edison Commemorative Coin Act
    • H.R. 434 – To extend the Small Business Act and the Small business Investment Act of 1958
    • H.R. 1003 – To extend the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy
    • H.J. Res. 20 - Revised Continuing Appropriations Resolution

    8 BILLS CO-SPONSORED BY REPUBLICANS OR PASSED WITHOUT OPPOSITION
    • H.R. 475 - House Page Board Revision Act
    • H.R. 727 – Trauma Care Systems Planning & Development Act
    • H.R. 742 - Antitrust Modernization Commission Extension Act
    • H.R. 1130 – Judicial Disclosure Responsibility Act
    • H.R. 1132 - National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Reauthorization Act
    • H.R. 1681 – American National Red Cross Governance Modernization Act
    • S. 494 – NATO Freedom Consolidation Act
    • S. 1002 – Older Americans Reauthorization Technical Corrections Act

  7. #37
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    Re: Democrat controlled Congress Approval Ratings

    Quote Originally Posted by jimzinsocal View Post
    The “new direction” Democrats have taken in the last five months breaks down as follows:

    13 BILLS TO NAME FEDERAL PROPERTY & BUILD A ROAD
    • H.R. 49 - To name the “Gerald R. Ford, Jr. Post Office Building”
    • H.R. 335 - To name the “Gale W. McGee Post Office”
    • H.R. 342 - To name the “Rush Hudson Limbaugh, Sr. United States Courthouse” [!!]
    • H.R. 433 - To name the “Scipio A. Jones Post Office Building”
    • H.R. 514 - To name the “Sergeant Lea Robert Mills Brooksville Aviation Branch Post Office”
    • H.R. 521 - To name the “Lane Evans Post Office Building”
    • H.R. 544 - To name the “Santiago E. Campos United States Courthouse”
    • H.R. 577 - To name the “Sergeant Henry Ybarra III Post Office Building”
    • H.R. 584 - To name the “Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building”
    • H.R. 753 – To name the “Clifford Davis & Odell Horton Federal Building”
    • H.R. 1129 - To build and maintain a road in St. Louis County, Missouri
    • S.159 – To name the “Robert T. Stafford White Rocks National Recreation Area”
    • S. 521 – To name the “Gerald W. Heaney Federal Building & United States Courthouse & Customhouse”

    5 BILLS TO EXTEND PRE-EXISTING PUBLIC LAW OR PASSED LAST YEAR
    • H.R. 137 – Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act (passed last year)
    • H.R. 188 - To extend the Thomas Alva Edison Commemorative Coin Act
    • H.R. 434 – To extend the Small Business Act and the Small business Investment Act of 1958
    • H.R. 1003 – To extend the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy
    • H.J. Res. 20 - Revised Continuing Appropriations Resolution

    8 BILLS CO-SPONSORED BY REPUBLICANS OR PASSED WITHOUT OPPOSITION
    • H.R. 475 - House Page Board Revision Act
    • H.R. 727 – Trauma Care Systems Planning & Development Act
    • H.R. 742 - Antitrust Modernization Commission Extension Act
    • H.R. 1130 – Judicial Disclosure Responsibility Act
    • H.R. 1132 - National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Reauthorization Act
    • H.R. 1681 – American National Red Cross Governance Modernization Act
    • S. 494 – NATO Freedom Consolidation Act
    • S. 1002 – Older Americans Reauthorization Technical Corrections Act
    I hear you. I'm hardly able to muster the word "busy" and "Democrat" in the same sentence unless they are accompanied by the words "doing nothing".
    "The most dangerous myth is the demagoguery that business can be made to pay a larger share, thus relieving the individual. Politicians preaching this are either deliberately dishonest, or economically illiterate, and either one should scare us...
    Only people pay taxes, and people pay as consumers every tax that is assessed against a business."


    -The Gipper


  8. #38
    Joined
    Aug 2001
    Posts
    74,684

    Re: Democrat controlled Congress Approval Ratings

    And from what may as well be the DNC? Not great numbers Nan Nan.
    And Reids are worse.

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/5/25/144959/932
    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/5/25/144754/762

    And certainly I recognize that Markos is still pissed cause the sun rises in the East.
    There is no pleasing the guy.
    Last edited by jimzinsocal; 05-25-2007 at 04:56 PM.

  9. #39
    Joined
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    California
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    25,336

    Re: Democrat controlled Congress Approval Ratings

    Murtha's Friends

    Murtha's Friends

    By Robert D. Novak
    Monday, May 28, 2007; A17

    Democrats controlling the House of Representatives demonstrated this month the hollowness of their claim that they have ended the corruption of 12 Republican years. Rep. John Murtha quietly slipped into the intelligence authorization bill two earmarks costing taxpayers $5.5 million. The beneficiary was a contractor whose headquarters is in Murtha's home town of Johnstown, Pa., and whose executives have been generous political contributors to the powerful 17-term congressman.

    This scandalous conduct would be unknown except for reforms by the new Democratic majority. But the remodeled system is not sufficiently transparent to expose in a timely manner the machinations of Murtha and fellow earmarkers to their colleagues, much less to the public. It took Republican Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, the leading House earmark-buster, to discover the truth.

    Jack Murtha, the maestro of imposing personal preferences on the appropriations process, looks increasingly like an embarrassment to Congress and the Democratic Party. But there is no Democratic will to curb Murtha, one of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's closest associates. Nor are Republicans eager for a crackdown endangering their own earmarkers.

    On May 10, as the intelligence bill moved toward passage, Flake took the floor of the House to relate how Capitol Hill works. Told that there were no earmarks attached to the bill, a skeptical Flake sought the measure's classified annex but was sent on a wild-goose chase for earmarks -- first to the clerk of the House and then to the parliamentarian. When he finally found 26 earmarks, it was five hours after the deadline to submit amendments to the bill. Flake requested a secret session of the House on intelligence earmarks but got no support from either party.

    Five days later, in a letter to House Republican leader John Boehner, Flake revealed (without describing them) Murtha's two earmarks for the Johnstown-based Concurrent Technologies. One provides $2.5 million for the Mobile Missile Monitoring and Detection program. The other supplies $3 million for the Joint Intelligence Training & Education with Advanced Distributed Learning Technological Phase II.

    Murtha's earmark requests attest (as required by the new reforms) that "neither I nor my spouse had any financial interest" in either project. What he did not attest was that officers and employees of Concurrent Technologies contributed $56,475 to Murtha from the 2000 election cycle to the present, according to Federal Election Commission reports. That includes $4,500 from the company's chief executive and president, Daniel DeVos, and $5,000 from its vice president, Emil Sarady.

    In his May 15 letter to Boehner, Flake made "another appeal" for House Republicans "to take a more proactive position in opposition to earmarks." The minority leader did not respond. Instead, on May 21, Boehner wrote to Pelosi that Murtha's $23 million earmark for a National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown was "a questionable project" secured by "highly suspect methods." Indeed, the project was not placed on the earmark list, as required by the new rules. An effort by Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan to eliminate this project led to Murtha's notorious threats, in violation of House rules, to eliminate Rogers's own earmarks "now and forever."

    In fact, Rogers, a 43-year-old former FBI agent, has 10 earmarks, costing more $45 million, to protect. Flake is a rare Republican who understands that pounding on Democrats will not cure the GOP's earmark addiction. "I am concerned," Flake wrote to Boehner, "that the only action taken regarding earmarks by Republicans thus far this year is to ask for clarification of the earmark rules, in order to ensure that we can take full advantage of earmark opportunities." Boehner, who personally does not use earmarks, told me, "I can't agree with that." But he did not respond to Flake.

    Nor do Democrats show interest in curbing earmarks. Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, Pelosi's handpicked intelligence committee chairman, blamed nondisclosure of earmarks on a mistake by the Government Printing Office. House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) first skirted the new rules by claiming that no earmarks were contained in the supplemental appropriations. Last week, he decreed that henceforth, earmarks in his bills would not be revealed until a measure passes both the House and Senate. The test for Democrats is what they will do about Murtha now that it is known that he rewards contributors with federal funds.

    © 2007 Creators Syndicate Inc.
    "The most dangerous myth is the demagoguery that business can be made to pay a larger share, thus relieving the individual. Politicians preaching this are either deliberately dishonest, or economically illiterate, and either one should scare us...
    Only people pay taxes, and people pay as consumers every tax that is assessed against a business."


    -The Gipper


  10. #40
    Joined
    Aug 2003
    Location
    West Richland, WA
    Posts
    6,397

    Re: Democrat controlled Congress Approval Ratings

    Quote Originally Posted by jimzinsocal View Post
    And from what may as well be the DNC? Not great numbers Nan Nan.
    And Reids are worse.

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/5/25/144959/932
    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/5/25/144754/762

    And certainly I recognize that Markos is still pissed cause the sun rises in the East.
    There is no pleasing the guy.
    ^^^

    Those are amazing numbers considering it's on the Kos.
    Brian

  11. #41
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    Re: Democrat controlled Congress Approval Ratings

    Quote Originally Posted by bk94si View Post
    ^^^

    Those are amazing numbers considering it's on the Kos.
    I'm not surprised.. piss off the nutroots and they strike out in EVERY direction. I make it a point to hit the k0z and DU among a few other sites where the fever usually runs high. They can turn faster than a rabid doggie....

    Do-Nothing Democrats - Quelle Surprise!

    May 29, 2007
    Do-Nothing Democrats - Quelle Surprise!
    By Ronald A. Cass

    I can't play quarterback the way Tom Brady or Peyton Manning can, but like most Americans I'm happy after a big game to say what they did right or wrong. As any Monday morning quarterback knows, it's hard to do things but easy to complain, critique, and second-guess.

    Democrats, after controlling Congress almost continuously from 1933 to 1995, were the minority party in the House of Representatives for a dozen years and for 10 of 12 years were the minority in the Senate, too. So, perhaps, it's not surprising that they've gotten very good at complaining about how the nation is governed and not so good at actually doing it.

    But few people have connected that to the performance of the 110th Congress. With Congress out for its Memorial Day break, commentators across the nation are taking stock of its first quarter performance and concluding that the Democrats have come up dramatically short. From left and right alike, observers are drawing the same picture of a Do-Nothing Congress. And, happy or sad, most are proclaiming surprise.

    After all, things looked very different last fall, when Nancy Pelosi was promising a Democratic Congress that within its first 100 hours would pass laws that would raise the minimum wage, bring the troops home from Iraq, expand health benefits, reform immigration laws, make college affordable for all, secure energy independence, and address broad taxing and spending issues. She also promised to "drain the swamp" - changing a Congress that failed to address ethical problems of individual members and that used "earmark" provisions to give pork to constituents and favors to lobbyists. Harry Reid and colleagues on the Senate side had similar, though more muted, messages.

    After 140 days, however, congressional Democrats left town with no significant accomplishments, one long-delayed bill finally enacted into law, and lots to make fun of. There was no increase in morality, no magically bipartisan era, no sweeping enactment of a coherent agenda for change, akin to what Republicans promised in their Contract With America in 1994. Instead, the 110th Congress has been a combination of "now I'll get mine" and "now you'll get yours!"

    It hasn't been pretty. And it isn't likely to get better. Only those who were paying very careful attention last fall saw this coming.
    *****
    The seeds were planted in the strategy for winning last fall. Democrats Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emanuel saw a road to getting back majorities in the Senate and House. Their strategy built on Republican negatives: public anger over scandals involving Mark Foley, Jack Abramoff, and Tom Delay, special interest earmarks, inflated spending, and a war that - judging from the daily drumbeat of bad news in mainstream media - was going badly without clear purpose or end-game.

    Rather than push hard-core liberal themes that lost elections for a dozen years, Schumer and Emanuel followed a different path. Their plan was to find moderates or even conservatives to run as Democrats in potential swing districts, criticize the Bush Administration and Republicans, talk a lot about hope and civility and bipartisanship, and let the candidates say whatever their constituents wanted to hear. The strategy worked, giving Democrats majorities in both Houses of Congress.
    *****
    Given the sources of the victory last fall, the story of this Congress has to be told in three parts: ethics, Iraq, and everything else. Ethics concerns included the misbehavior of individual congressmen as well as the systemic problems with earmarks and lobbyists.

    From the very start, things got off on the wrong foot. Nancy Pelosi's first act as Speaker was to push anti-war activist and vocal critic of all things Republican, John Murtha, as her choice for House majority leader, despite serious issues respecting Murtha's ethics. The Democratic Caucus helped Ms. Pelosi out by rejecting her choice, but Pelosi has made Murtha her caucus' number one voice on war policy.

    Another ethics problem for Democrats is William Jefferson of Louisiana, whose "frozen assets" consisted of $90,000 wrapped in foil in his freezer, marked bribe money demanded by Jefferson in exchange for helping a business secure government contracts. Jefferson was filmed taking the bribe, but his colleagues have not
    censured him, and the work of the House Ethics Committee on this matter stopped when Democrats took over last January.

    Ms. Pelosi has been eager to make a show of raising ethical standards, but not at the expense of her colleagues' or her own ability to bring home the bacon. She tacked an earmark for $25 million for California strawberry farmers onto the emergency appropriations bill for US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill, which the President just signed into law, ultimately was stripped of every significant Democrat initiative on Iraq but still became a wonderful Christmas tree decorated with provisions giving special favors - and $17 billion in extra spending - for the pet projects of dozens of Democrats. In addition to something for Ms. Pelosi, it has a $23 million earmark for Mr. Murtha's district. When criticized for that earmark, Mr. Murtha responded with a choice four-letter curse, and a threat to prevent his Republican critic from ever getting anything for his district. So much for civility and bipartisanship!

    If the practice of earmarking hasn't ended, it has changed a bit - for the worse. House Appropriations Chair David Obey, Democrat of Wisconsin, says he has so many requests for earmarks to add to major legislation - over 30,000 in five months - that he has no choice but to tack them on after work on the bill is complete and won't reveal them until after both Houses vote. The other real change is that not all earmarks are put in writing - now Democrats who don't want anyone to know what they're doing can simply phone in the instructions on where to send the money (a practice Washington insiders now call "phone-marking"), as Harry Reid did in a call to the Energy Department.

    Far from draining the swamp, Democrats have been wallowing in it.
    *****
    What about Iraq? On their way out of town, 109 days after President Bush requested supplemental funding for the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, Congress finally passed a bill that could be signed into law. How it got there, however, is another story.

    During the election cycle, many Democrats enjoyed backing from hard core, left-wing anti-war groups such as MoveOn.Org, while others were sent to Washington by voters who, if unhappy with the war in Iraq, are skeptical about solutions. Stuck between the Get Out Now crowd and moderate voters who don't want to encourage terrorists or put our troops in danger, and facing a certain veto by the President of any bill that impinged on presidential prerogatives, Democrats spent months on symbolic votes and non-binding resolutions. When they finally passed a bill, they announced that after their Memorial Day recess they would try to undo most of what it does.

    The rest of the Democrats' legislative agenda has been on the shelf. The only part of it to become law was the minimum wage increase. And that followed a very curious route. Rather than pass that as a stand-alone bill in the first 100 hours - which they had more than enough votes to do - the leadership decided to marry the wage increase to the emergency supplemental defense funding bill, but only after taking separate votes on the two halves of the legislation. That way, members afraid of offending one or another supporting group could explain, à la John Kerry, how they voted for the legislation while voting against it, or only backed the legislation to get the parts their supporters like.

    In place of legislation, we've had investigations. Lots of them. Into everything the Administration is doing - not so Congress can do something about it, but to make the point that Republicans are doing it wrong.
    *****
    Just after the elections last fall, Senator Schumer warned that the Democrats' victory was less a mandate than a protest. He cautioned that if Democrats were merely obstructionist, opposing the President without actually trying to enact a positive legislative agenda, they would lose power quickly - and deservedly so.

    The Democrats' leadership should have listened. President Bush, suffering abysmal poll numbers after six years in office, now has company - a Democratic Congress that in less than six months earned even lower poll numbers by showing more interest in posturing, payback, and pork than in coming to grips with real problems.

    If Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Reid, and their colleagues decide to stay on the sidelines, second-guessing, shouting directions, and calling players over for a dressing down, they may well find themselves out of a job. After all, even Monday morning quarterbacks can be replaced.

    Ronald A. Cass is President of Cass & Associates, PC, Dean Emeritus of Boston University School of Law, and served Presidents Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush as Commissioner and Vice-Chairman of the US International Trade Commission.
    "The most dangerous myth is the demagoguery that business can be made to pay a larger share, thus relieving the individual. Politicians preaching this are either deliberately dishonest, or economically illiterate, and either one should scare us...
    Only people pay taxes, and people pay as consumers every tax that is assessed against a business."


    -The Gipper


  12. #42
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    Re: Democrat controlled Congress Approval Ratings


    Video: Most ethical Congress ever still stuffing its fat face with pork — secretly


    Another week, another superb little CNN expose of Congressional malfeasance in which Democrats take the worst of it. This one actually has a narrative arc, starting at the scene of the crime and ending with the revelation of the porker’s identity. News, Hitchcock style!

    I do especially admire the Kleagle’s reasoning that to publicize pork would only lead to more of it. See? The secrecy’s for your own good.
    "The most dangerous myth is the demagoguery that business can be made to pay a larger share, thus relieving the individual. Politicians preaching this are either deliberately dishonest, or economically illiterate, and either one should scare us...
    Only people pay taxes, and people pay as consumers every tax that is assessed against a business."


    -The Gipper


  13. #43
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    Re: Democrat controlled Congress Approval Ratings

    House Backtracks Futher on Earmarks; CNN Notices Abuses

    House Backtracks Futher on Earmarks; CNN Notices Abuses

    The Democrats promised reform when they took back Congress, but those promises continue to unravel. Though they came to power promising to take the mystery out of earmarking, and require full disclosure, Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey recently said that earmarks will only be inserted in legislation at the last minute--immediately before final passage:

    House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) said Tuesday he would not include earmarks in appropriations bills until they reach conference, angering some of his Republican counterparts and prompting accusations that Democrats were going against their pledge to reform and bring transparency to the earmarking process...

    Any such earmarks dropped into the conference report will comply with House disclosure rules, Obey promised.

    “If we choose to insert earmarks in conference, it will be under the rules that require every one to be inserted by name,” he said.

    But Republicans complain that Obey’s decision effectively bars Members from attempting to strike individual earmarks on the House floor, and they fear Democrats could use the threat of losing earmarks as a club over Republicans.
    Under the rules adopted by House Democrats at the start of the Congress, pork-barrel projects inserted into conference reports are subject to the same disclosure requirements as earmarks in other legislation. However, conference reports are pretty much never amended on the House floor, removing the ability to strip egregious wastes of taxpayer money. Furthermore, conference reports are typically voted on mere hours after they are agreed to; there's rarely enough time to read the report--even if you can get your hands on it.

    It's also hard to take Chairman Obey's promises on disclosure seriously, since he asserted the right a few months ago to insert a whole class of earmarks without any disclosure at all. The underpinning for the argument seems to be that when a committee chair introduces a bill with earmarks, he isn't really a person bound by disclosure rules--he's more of an institution.

    The backtracking on earmarks hasn't gone entirely unnoticed; CNN recently produced this piece on the failure of Congressional Democrats to clean up the institution as promised. Obey and his counterpart in the Senate--Robert Byrd--feature prominently:

    The more things change...
    "The most dangerous myth is the demagoguery that business can be made to pay a larger share, thus relieving the individual. Politicians preaching this are either deliberately dishonest, or economically illiterate, and either one should scare us...
    Only people pay taxes, and people pay as consumers every tax that is assessed against a business."


    -The Gipper


  14. #44
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    25,336

    Re: Democrat controlled Congress Approval Ratings

    CNN's Drew Griffen:

    "Federal jobs in Johnstown appear safe.... The Democrats promised reform ... and it's not happening."
    VIDEO: Murtha and Earmarks


    “The most ethical congress in history”

    "The most dangerous myth is the demagoguery that business can be made to pay a larger share, thus relieving the individual. Politicians preaching this are either deliberately dishonest, or economically illiterate, and either one should scare us...
    Only people pay taxes, and people pay as consumers every tax that is assessed against a business."


    -The Gipper


  15. #45
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    Location
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    25,336

    Re: Democrat controlled Congress Approval Ratings

    Phonemarks.....??

    Tracking Earmarks is Nice -- But What About Phonemarks?

    Tracking Earmarks is Nice -- But What About Phonemarks?

    The Hill reports that OMB director Rob Portman is pledging to track earmarks in all spending bills enacted for 2008:

    The White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) stated Thursday that it will keep track of earmarks during the 2008 fiscal year appropriations process.

    In a memo to all executive branch agency heads, OMB Director Rob Portman asked all agencies to report to OMB the number and dollar value of earmarks within seven days after an appropriations bill is either reported by the House or Senate appropriations committees or passed on the House or Senate floor.

    “We are going to be more aggressive on earmarks going into the appropriations cycle,” said Portman at a meeting with reporters. “The notion is not that every earmark is bad or there shouldn’t be any earmarks. The notion is that this has gotten out of control.”
    Good government groups will join fiscal conservatives in welcoming this good news. But perhaps your optimism will be tempered when you find out who else is enthusiastically backing this development:

    A spokesman for Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) said that OMB should have no problem in finding earmarks, thanks to new transparency requirements.

    “They should have a very easy time in identifying those earmarks,” said spokesman Tom Gavin. “All of that information will made be available and in a very upfront fashion.”
    This sounds suspiciously like the fox giving compliments on the security at the henhouse. Can there be any explanation other than that he's figured out a way to pick the lock?

    In the case of Senator Byrd, it might be that he's pleased with the way 'phonemarking 'is going:

    When the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives passed one of its first spending bills, funding the Energy Department for the rest of 2007, it proudly boasted that the legislation contained no money earmarked for lawmakers' pet projects and stressed that any prior congressional requests for such spending "shall have no legal effect."

    Within days, however, lawmakers including Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) began directly contacting the Energy Department. They sought to secure money for their favorite causes outside of the congressional appropriations process -- a practice that lobbyists and appropriations insiders call "phonemarking."
    The truth is that phonemarking is a sign of important progress in the effort to squelch earmarked spending. 'Phonemarks' cannot be made legally binding; it's up to the Executive Branch to decide whether to cooperate in the process.

    The next logical step for earmark opponents may be to push federal agencies to monitor and disclose all efforts by members of Congress and their staffs to 'lobby' for specific spending items--whether that lobbying occurs by phone, E-mail, letter, or other means.
    "The most dangerous myth is the demagoguery that business can be made to pay a larger share, thus relieving the individual. Politicians preaching this are either deliberately dishonest, or economically illiterate, and either one should scare us...
    Only people pay taxes, and people pay as consumers every tax that is assessed against a business."


    -The Gipper


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