Tag Archives: Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)

Senator Bunning’s Finest Hour: Stopping the Reckless Congress by Gregory Hilton

“If the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.'” — Sir Winston Churchill, June 18th, 1940

Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY), 79, has been on Capitol Hill for 24 years, but yesterday was his finest hour. He was the only Senator to object to the unanimous consent agreement which would have extended unemployment cash and health benefits for 1.2 million Americans.
Bunning doesn’t oppose the benefits. They would cost $10 billion in borrowed money, with interest due in a year. The Senator just wants to bring an immediate halt to any more deficit spending. Bunning is insisting Congress first pay for these benefits because the government should no longer be spending money it does not have.
I sure wish other lawmakers would act in this manner. Were any of these Senators paying attention earlier this week when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the current long-term deficits are “unsustainable” and they could push up interest rates and place a drag on the economy.
Bunning is the one Senator insisting Congress must comply with the “Pay-Go” (pay as you go) rules they just adopted. Pay-Go was intended to stop Congress from passing any more spending without first finding the money to pay for it. The Democrats often cite Pay-Go to demonstrate they are serious about budget deficits, but the program is worthless because the requirement is always waived.
There are many things all of us would like to purchase, but we can not afford them and we avoid going into debt. The liberal Congress never understands this message.
If these benefits are so important the Congress should find a way to pay for them. “If we can’t find $10 billion somewhere for a bill that everybody in this body supports, we will never pay for anything,” he said. Bunning’s suggestion is to use leftover “stimulus” money to pay for these benefits. The suggestion is excellent, and transfer payments accounted for over 80% of stimulus spending last year.
If his colleagues do not like that idea, then the money can come out of the budgets for National Public Radio, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, green jobs, price supports for multi-millionaire farmers, or those eight new jets the Congress is ordering for its junkets.
The Democrats are resorting to their usual solution. They want to pay for these benefits on credit so future generations will be stuck with the bill. Bunning’s idea is to take away the Congressional credit card. He brought the Senate to a halt by objecting to a unanimous consent agreement, and the liberal news media went ballistic. Time magazine has ranked him among the five worst Senators.
One columnist described him as “loutish, eccentric and mean,” and another said the Democrats ought to make Bunning “the poster boy of the right-wing filibuster.” What they did not say is that this bill was passed by the House six months ago. Why is their anger not directed at Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)?
Reid could have called the bill up earlier so objections could have been dealt with under the regular rules. Instead, Reid waited until the day before adjournment, but then his usual cloture motion trick would not work before the benefits expired.
Furthermore, it has been Reid’s policy to stop the Senate from operating under unanimous consent agreements. The liberals never said anything about this change in long established procedures when it was instituted in 2007. If Reid is so concerned about the unemployed, then why did he kill the bipartisan unemployment bill passed by the Finance Committee? All of the spending portions of that bill were paid for.
“Remember now, this all could’ve been changed had not the leader of the Senate decided that a bipartisan compromise jobs bill was not as important as his partisan jobs bill that just passed just before all of this debate,” Bunning said in his final remarks.
There is always a crisis used by the liberals to increase our debt burden. My sympathy is with the taxpayers. Am I cold hearted regarding the unemployed? No, all 100 Senators are in favor of this temporary extension. The Senate returns on Tuesday, and this bill is going to pass that day.
What Bunning has accomplished is to emphasize the hypocrisy of the liberals. They just passed the Pay-Go bill and the first thing they do is to make a $10 billion exemption. The unemployed are not going to suffer, but hopefully the taxpayer will gain because of Bunning’s courage.
His loud and clear message is how do we pay for this bill? Of course he is correct that the money should come from the stimulus. Bunning’s battle is essential because this is just an opening shot. The next initiative is the longer-term $100 billion jobless benefits package. This is also being exempted from Pay-Go. I am so glad someone is saying STOP to all of this outrageous deficit spending. Bunning is raising the correct question, what reductions can be made to the federal deficit?
The crisis occurred because Majority Leader Reid abandoned the $85 billion bipartisan jobs bill which was paid for. “My gosh, we’ve got over $400 billion in unspent stimulus money,” Bunning said on the Senate floor. “I’ll be here as long as you’re here and as long as all those other senators are here and I’m going to object every time because you won’t pay for this and you propose to never pay for it.”
Pay-Go passed by the House in 2007, and even Speaker Pelosi has used this trick to claim she is a deficit hawk. Pay-Go sounds great until you realize they exempt all of the liberal spending programs. There is a key difference between the GOP and Democratic Pay-Go proposals. Republicans wanted no easy exemptions.
Once again, this bill will be passed on Tuesday and no one is going to suffer. The opening shot has been made and now we are on to the $100 billion battle over the jobless benefits package. All we are asking is how do you pay for these new spending programs. It is a question which needs to be heard over and over again in the reckless Congress.
Senator Bunning is under fire for doing the right thing. He wants Congress to pay for its programs, quit passing bills that aren’t funded, and stop adding to the deficit for the sake of political expediency. He’s trying to bring change to Washington. Didn’t someone promise to do that before?

Democrats, not Republicans, are the Real “Party of No” by Gregory Hilton

A popular theme in the news media is that the Republican Party wants the United States to fail in order to make political gains this November. The story makes little sense because until two weeks ago the Democrats had a super majority. The GOP is accused of threatening 58 filibusters to bring the Senate to a halt. It is pure nonsense and no one should be shocked that some Senators have placed a temporary “hold” on a nomination. That has happened for over a century.
The GOP is not the “party of no,” and it has been constructive. The first session of the 111th Congress enacted 154 bills, including many major legislative proposals.
Democrats are the real “party of no” and this began in 2007 when they refused to allow votes on many Bush appointments. Those holds were not temporary. The Democrats started a legislative war four years ago when they broke over a century of Senate traditions by resorting to absolute partisanship. The general public does not realize this because the news media has ignored the story.
The Senate changed significantly in 2006 when Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) became Majority Leader. Unlike previous Democratic Majority Leaders such as Tom Daschle (D-SD) and George Mitchell (D-ME), Reid wasn’t willing to use unanimous consent agreements. This would have required compromises with Republicans, and it is how the Senate was always run in the past. The GOP was definitely willing to compromise when it was in power, and prior Republican leaders such as Trent Lott (R-MS) and Bill Frist (R-TN) received considerable flack from the party base because of their willingness to agree to compromises which allowed the Senate to make progress on legislative priorities.
When they were in power, Republicans allowed the Democrats to have a meaningful role in the legislative process. They were allowed to offer amendments, but that rarely happens anymore. What Majority Leader Harry Reid has done is run the Senate by cloture motions, or RuleXXII. This allows 16 Senators to force an end to debate after 30 hours. Cloture motions were used in the past, but they were always aimed at stopping filibusters.
The Reid procedures are totally unique. No one has ever before run the Senate by cloture motion, and Reid has largely succeeded in bringing unity to the GOP caucus. Diverse Senators such as Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) are equally outraged by what has happened. They are all mystified because it is so unnecessary to run the Senate in this manner, and the favorite topic in the GOP cloakroom is what motivates Reid.
Once again, before Reid cloture was only used to stop a filibuster. Now it is how the Senate is run. Cloture is filed on everything, and it has nothing to do with Republican stalling. But that hasn’t stopped the media and liberal activist groups from promoting the false GOP obstruction story.
The left wing has simply taken the number of cloture petitions filed and label them Republican “filibusters.” The number of actual filibuster threats made by the Republican leadership is miniscule.
If Democrats were really concerned about obstructionism, they have the power to end it. They simply need to be willing to negotiate with the Republican leadership in the Senate in good faith. They are not going to do that because the goal is not legislation, it is public relations.
In the 11th Congress, Republicans have been working desperately to avoid fiscal collapse. They have made substantive recommendations on how to create jobs, but President Obama went ahead with the stimulus. Here is a quick review of the President’s economic performance:
* We were told the $787 billion Stimulus would stop unemployment from reaching 8%. But it will stay around 10% for the next year, and “under-employment” is at 17%. The deficit this has created is an enormous burden to the next generation.
* The $60 billion bailout of GM and Chrysler required major changes in bankruptcy laws and huge concessions to the UAW (they own 55% of Chrysler). The White House claims GM is starting to repay the loan is not true. GM has not made a profit. They just decided not to tap a government contingency fund which would place them further in debt.
* The “Cash-for-Clunkers” program cost taxpayers between $20,000 and $45,000 per vehicle purchased.
* The “HAMP” mortgage modification program, designed to save homeowners from foreclosure? Out of 651,000 “trial” modifications, zero have turned into a permanent repayment plan
We have had an impact by stopping cap-and-trade, and the Copenhagen climate change agenda. This bill would have cost the average American family an annual $1,720. This was definitely what was not needed in a recession.
The GOP gave the President good advice. He should be glad he listened to them rather than Secretary of Energy Steven Chu who said the price of electricity in America is “anomalously low.”