In my most recent blog post last Thursday I spoke of the fact that the more things change, the more they remain the same. The actions in the House on the spending bill illustrated my point and I am frustrated. I am not surprised at the actions of the GOP. They quietly included a variety of riders in the bill that have nothing to sdo with spending. That’s right, the party that accuses the Obama administration of not being transparent, worked to allude transparency. That is not really shocking from a party that has made hypocrisy an accepted mode of behavior. I am, however, very disappointed at the actions of the Democrats. They have once again fallen under the thumb of the bullying right-wing. What is more frustrating is the fact that it was not only 57 House Democrats that buckled, but the White House as well. I feel compelled to speak out and call them out on their actions. They may say that is was pragmatism that caused them to buckle, but I call it cowardice.
In this spending bill they gave up on necessary constraints against the banking industry, already approved in Dodd-Frank, which can ultimately cost taxpayers billions in bailout funds. Equally as disturbing, they also allowed for a change in individual campaign contribution limits and allowed for reduced spending on education and other important social programs. Finally, the bill allows for only short-term funding of Homeland Security, setting up a major battle on immigration in March. I applaud Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi for their vocal efforts at challenging this passage. I condemn the White House for its efforts to pressure enough Democrats to achieve its passage.
The battle now turns to the Senate. They have called for a two-day extension to give them time to act on the spending bill next week. Since this bill was negotiated in part by Reid, there is no doubt that he will try to push his Democratic colleagues to pass it. The challenge now falls in the lap of Senator Warren again. Will she be able to garner enough support to challenge the objectionable elements in the bill and force a rewriting and a conference committee? I believe that this is a watershed moment for Democrats. Who are they and what do they stand for? Are they the party of progressive thinking and policy? Are they really committed to the ideas that they have professed and articulated over the decades? Who do they really represent? This is a battle that will begin to provide the answer to those questions. It may, in fact, show us that the Democrats are not as united as we may have thought. If so, what does that portend for the future?
As we approach the new Congress it is vitally important the Democrats get their act together. We saw what happened to the GOP when they were not united and were unable to move because of a few rabid dissidents. It damaged both their party and the nation. It is time that the Democrats remember who they are and what they stand for. Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi have it right. Majority Leader Reid must get with the program and remember why you were sent there and who you represent. It is time the Democrats act out of conviction and not out of fear.