Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Congressional Losses

Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I shed no tears for the Republican loss of majorities in both Houses of Congress.  They lost for a lot of reasons.

Prior to November 7th I had shared with a number of people my theory as to why the Republicans would loose control of Congress.  I mostly received blank stares or was told they would loose because of President Bush.  In reality it was a joint effort.

My theory.

President Bush was neutered by two wars (Afganistan and Iraq).  In order to obtain the funding for these wars (regardless of their popularity) he needed to appease Congressional Republicans who controled the purse strings.  To me this explains why he only vetoed one bill in the past six years.  Emboldened by their enormouse power to spend and free from the fear of a Presidential veto they proceeded to spend like drunken sailors. 

The loss of both houses will strengthen the hand of Newt Gingrich in reshaping the GOP through 2008.  This man has been vilified since he was speaker in waiting.  However, regardless of how you feel about him he has a great mind and I think he will emerge as a power broker shortly. 

Newt Gingrich refers to my theory in kinder language when he proposes that the GOP take a hard look at their appointment process:

House Republicans should establish new principles for appointing people to the Appropriations Committee. Nothing infuriated the Republican base more than the continued process of earmarks, set asides and incumbent-protection pork. There is no reason for the House Republican conference to reappoint a single appropriator unless they agree to be part of the Republican team. First establish the principles of representing Republican values on appropriations and then ask each appropriator to commit themselves to living by those principles or accept appointment to another committee. There is a legitimate role for set asides in the legislative-executive branch process, but there is no reason to give the executive branch a blank check. There has to be some limits, and those limits should be set by the Conference and not by the committee members.

He is right on.  The GOP lost its credentials as the party of fiscal discipline and became the big spenders they threw out in 1994.  I guess the silver lining is that it only took them 12 years to become the big spenders.  The other party did it in 40 years.  (that is a Hayduke type joke – tongue in cheek).

Now we (the Country) have an opportunity to move forward with divided government.  Mr. Gingrich makes another point as well.  This point is also being called out in other quarters.

From a House Republican standpoint, the center of gravity should be the 54 Blue Dog Democrats. If we and the Blue Dogs can find a handful of key things to work on together, we can almost certainly create a majority on the floor just as the Reagan Republicans and conservative Democrats did in 1981. Bipartisanship can be conservative and back bench rather than liberal and establishment leadership defined. What did the Blue Dogs promise to get elected? What was the nature of their coalition back home? They give us the best opportunity to create grassroots efforts to pass solid legislation. Remember, the liberals will find it very hard to write a budget acceptable to the grassroots that elected the Blue Dogs. We have real opportunities if we are creative.

The Democrats did a great job of recruiting conservative Democrats.  Can they be led by a liberal leadership?  Perhaps this is what Nancy Pelosi is thinking when she backed Blue Dog Murtha over Hoyer.  She needs credibility among the Blue Dogs if she expects to keep them in her column on critical votes.

As Newt concludes:

Do not underestimate Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi and her team. She and Rahm Emmanuel finally put together a disciplined recruiting system that allowed a lot of Democrats to run as conservatives, even while they were planning to elect the most liberal Speaker in history. Pelosi is a tough, smart, disciplined professional. She is not going to be easy to beat, and she and her team are going to work hard to keep you in the minority for a decade or more.

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3 Responses to “Congressional Losses”

  1. MBT said

    A lesson can be learned here by the GOP as well: the liberal Dems learned to play well with conservatives in their party. The conservatives in the GOP needs to learn to play well with the moderate Republicans as well. Litmus tests are not good for either party.

  2. Furrier said

    I would alter “Hayduke-style joke” by pointing out that we *stopped* the Repub excessive spending after only 12 years, perhaps showing that we’ve learned something after taking 40 years to stop the Dem excessive spending.

  3. The GOP only started spending like they did over that past 2+ years. Prior to that they were fiscally disciplined.

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