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Posts Tagged ‘Harry Reid’
January 17th, 2014 at 7:06 pm
Bob Gates, with Panache
Posted by Troy Senik Print

I’ve watched with interest over the past few weeks as the media has feasted on excerpts from the new memoir, Duty, by former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates. This is a pretty well-worn Washington tradition: do advance publicity for an otherwise workmanlike book by leaking its few moments of genuine provocation, then sit back and watch the sharks circle.

Truth be told, I don’t regard most of the “revelations” as befitting the name. Is anyone surprised that President Obama’s heart didn’t seem to be in the Afghan War (for Obama, it was only “the good war” relative to Iraq, not in absolute terms). Is anyone shocked that Vice President Biden consistently displays a facile approach to foreign policy? Are we stunned that Hillary Clinton and President Obama admitted behind closed doors that their opposition to the surge in Iraq was based on cynical political calculations (I actually find this somewhat heartening—I’d rather think of them as skilled, amoral politicos than complete naifs).

Gates—like his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, and his successor, Leon Panetta—is a decent man who genuinely wanted what was best for the country and the military. He’s also, it turns out, a bit of a firecracker (it helps in that job). From Joel Gehrke, writing at the Washington Examiner:

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates didn’t hide his contempt for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., when asked to answer Reid’s claim that he “denigrated” colleagues “to make a buck” with his new memoir.

“It’s common practice on the Hill to vote on bills you haven’t read, and it’s perfectly clear that Sen. Reid has not read the book. He will find that I do denigrate him,” Gates cracked back at a Politico event promoting his new book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.

I like the cut of his jib.

November 26th, 2013 at 5:47 pm
A Way to Win the Filibuster Fallout

Quin has a must-read idea about how to turn Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) filibuster nonsense into a political winner for the Republican Party.

Sketched out as only a savvy former congressional staff member could do, Quin’s idea calls on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to hold a joint press conference to announce:

1)    The role the filibuster has played in Senate deliberations
2)    How Republicans on both sides of the capitol could respond with tactics that would grind legislative business to a halt
3)    Or instead, with a compromise endorsed by 19 current and former Senate Democrats that preserves the filibuster, but in a form more in service to the public good

The proposed change would “turn the group filibuster back into a tool for extended debate – to try to rally public support – rather than a means of permanent obstruction,” writes Quin at NRO. “By serially ratcheting down the number of votes needed to invoke cloture – from 60 to 57 – 54 to 51, on successive attempts – the rule in effect would force opponents of a bill or nomination to show that their arguments are gaining more adherents as time progresses, thus showing that they might actually gain the support of an awakening public.”

For me, the attractiveness of Quin’s idea is its attempt to re-inject much-needed attention on the deliberative process in lawmaking. For the first time in years, the Senate – and especially the Republican bench – boasts a bevy of thoughtful debaters like Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY). Rather than speechmaking marathons where one person must speak until exhausted, America would be better served hearing, for example, Cruz and Tim Kaine (D-VA) debate immigration policy.

The possibilities abound. Imagine a debate between Paul and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on fiscal and monetary policy. Or between Lee and a Democrat-to-be-determined on any clause in the Constitution. By making the filibuster vote threshold drop with every round of voting, opponents of a measure must either win converts or lose the majority. Either way, the legislative process is made better because the senators elected to represent the public are putting their reasons on the record.

My quick summary doesn’t do enough justice to Quin’s piece, which you can read here. At a time when so much of government seems broken, it is refreshing to read a piece that offers a workable solution.

November 25th, 2013 at 11:46 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Mr. Reid Goes to Washington
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

October 10th, 2013 at 7:21 pm
Obama Can’t Get Out of His Own Way
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Watching President Obama blunder his way through the government shutdown and the debt ceiling fight has been jaw-dropping. The president can’t seem to score political points even when the other side is fumbling the ball in their own end zone.

Regardless of what you think of the GOP’s tactics going into the shutdown, the polling has been pretty clear that Republicans are shouldering more of the blame than Democrats. All Obama had to do to capitalize was get out of their way.

Instead, his OMB imposed a series of petty, penny ante shutdowns on locations like the open-air World War II Memorial. The resulting anger from the public has led to plans for a Million Vet March on the mall this weekend. To add insult to injury, police actually removed a man from the Lincoln Memorial grounds yesterday who was voluntarily mowing the grass so that it would look nice for America’s veterans. And this whole drama is playing out within a week or so of Harry Reid’s gaffe making it sound like Democrats weren’t interested in funding research to help children with cancer. When you’re offending World War II vets and terminally ill kids, you’re generally doing politics wrong.

The theatrics are little more than a sideshow, however — and that’s probably the reason they haven’t moved the polls any. We’re now coming to the point, though, when the two sides are negotiating over the real substance of these issues. Just a little while ago, the New York Times put up a story saying that the President had rejected a Republican offer to pass a six-week extension of the debt ceiling. In the time it’s taken me to draft this post, they’ve changed it to say only that they’ve “failed to reach agreement” and that both sides are still talking.

If Obama has any sense, he’ll take this deal. The Republican willingness to pass a short-term fix to the debt ceiling represents an acknowledgment that the consequences of not doing so are decidedly more dangerous that those attending a government shutdown (have you noticed that life hasn’t been much different while official Washington is on hiatus?). If the President shoots it down, he will begin to look like the absolutist and he will seem like the one who’s playing Russian roulette with the country in order to bolster his political standing. With any other president, it’d be unfathomable. Obama, however, has a special gift for unforced errors.

May 2nd, 2013 at 2:30 pm
New Version of Secret Immigration Bill has 999 Waivers

Not only does a newly released version of the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill expand (from 844 to 867 pages) its previous draft, it also “contains 999 references to waivers, exemptions and political discretion,” according to an analysis by Neil Munro of the Daily Caller.

That means the Gang’s new bill has more exemptions per page than ObamaCare; 1.14 per page to 0.78 by the Daily Caller’s count.

As a reminder, there are now two secretly negotiated versions of comprehensive immigration reform circulating on Capitol Hill, and neither of them includes one word of input from the public, issue experts, or other Members of Congress.

If the U.S. Senate under Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) were following a transparent process it would be expected that the introduced version of the Gang’s immigration bill would change and perhaps get bigger after a few weeks kicking around in committee as Senators and their supporters read and tweaked it.

But the fact that there has been no opportunity for amendments to the Gang’s original bill and barely enough time for opponents to read and understand it – and consequently, find out what’s wrong with it – the arrival of this secretly amended version means that non-Gang members are back to square one trying to figure out what the bill actually says and what it actually does.

With 999 exemptions, waivers and grants of discretion to sort through, it would take the better part of a month to diagram how the law will work when implemented, and ferret out all its unintended consequences.

As it is, the full Senate is expected to start voting on the new version as early as next week when Congress returns from its current recess.

This is government by ambush, and conservatives need to kill both the bill and the perverted process that makes it possible.

February 14th, 2013 at 3:17 pm
Republicans to Filibuster Hagel?

It looks like Quin’s prediction that Senate Republicans would filibuster Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be the next Defense Secretary was right on.

Politico and Fox News are reporting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn’t have 60 votes necessary to shut down a threatened Republican filibuster, so it looks like Hagel will be in confirmation limbo until at least February 25th.

The reasons given revolve mainly around trying to pressure the White House to turn over documents detailing the Obama Administration’s response during and after the terrorist attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.  So far, there have been only cursory remarks by Republican Senators that a vote on Hagel is being delayed because of problems raised by his past policy statements and inconsistent testimony two weeks ago.

Right now, it looks like the GOP, as the minority party in the Senate, is trying to assert itself any way it can.  But there is a risk the move could backfire, if over the next week or two President Obama successfully frames the filibuster as over a dispute about an issue unrelated to Hagel’s fitness to run the Pentagon.  To avoid that, Republicans should be prepared to make a compelling case against Hagel on the merits, in every forum possible.

January 27th, 2013 at 3:26 pm
Obama: Delusional, Dishonest… and Disastrous

The New Republic is out with a new interview with BHO, the man in the Oval Office. It pains me too much even just to copy and paste the worst parts of it… so I won’t. But please read it yourself. The whole thrust of it is that he — yes, Mr. Obama — is the one always going the extra mile for compromise; that he and Nancy Pelosi (!) and Harry Reid (!) again and again have taken the “tough” steps toward compromise that the country needs, but that the Republicans are just so darned intransigent and a lot of them don’t even really care about what’s good for the country.

The man is either delusional or despicable dishonest, or both. Either way, his attitude is as disastrous for the country as his performance has been. He’s so sanctimonious, so solipsistic, so self-aggrandizing that it’s sickening. What a godawful creature he is.

January 22nd, 2013 at 6:00 pm
Reid’s Filibuster Reform Gets It Half Right

The Hill is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is in the final stages of hammering out a filibuster reform package.  Here are the two biggest changes:

The agreement between Reid and McConnell is not expected to include the talking filibuster, which would require senators who want to block action on legislation to actually hold the floor and debate for hours on end.

In recent days, Reid has begun to focus on a proposal to tweak the filibuster rule by requiring the minority party to muster 41 votes to stall a bill or nominee. Under current rules, the responsibility is on the majority to round up 60 votes to end a filibuster.

I say half right because I favor a talking filibuster and making the minority party (in this case the Republicans) come up with the votes necessary to trigger a filibuster.  Putting people on the record isn’t comfortable, but it is required to make the distinctions between the parties – and their ideologies – more publicly apparent.

Moreover, citizens need to know the well-reasoned, well-researched arguments for and against a proposed policy.  Far from hurting the Republican minority, I think giving articulate conservatives like Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Rand Paul (R-KY) an opportunity to make their case will help educate the public about important issues.  This in turn will spur a dialogue on the Right that will allow the movement to better understand itself so that it can better persuade the electorate.

January 8th, 2013 at 8:10 pm
Quin is Wrong on Procedure, Right on Substance

In light of the volleys exchanged, let’s review how a senatorial hold works.

From the U.S. Senate’s reference page on chamber rules:

hold - An informal practice by which a senator informs his or her floor leader that he or she does not wish a particular bill or other measure to reach the floor for consideration. The majority leader need not follow the senator’s wishes, but is on notice that the opposing senator may filibuster any motion to proceed to consider the measure.

Note the part stating, “The majority leader need not follow the senator’s wishes, but is on notice that the opposing senator may filibuster any motion to proceed to consider the measure.”

What’s a filibuster?

filibuster - Informal term for any attempt to block or delay Senate action on a bill or other matter by debating it at length, by offering numerous procedural motions, or by any other delaying or obstructive actions.

Bear in mind that the majority leader, i.e. Harry Reid (D-NV), “need not follow the senator’s wishes…”  Recall also Reid’s musings that he’d like to enact the so-called ‘nuclear option’ to remove the usual supermajority requirement for overcoming a filibuster, and replace it with a simple majority.  So, if the Senate Democratic caucus wants to, they can 1) refuse to honor any hold requests on Hagel, and 2) change Senate rules on filibusters to shut down the opposition.  With several news outlets reporting that President Barack Obama is ready to pick a fight over Hagel, I think Reid does both if Republicans try to kill Obama’s nominee for Defense Secretary with obstructionist procedural tactics.

Maybe if Hagel was nominated for some second tier Cabinet office Republicans could get away with relying on informal procedures to block his next career move.  But with Obama riding high after the fiscal cliff negotiations – Quin’s optimism notwithstanding – I think Republicans will lose, and lose big, with the public if they try to kill Obama’s top Pentagon pick on procedure rather than substance.

It should be said that I don’t disagree with any of Quin’s criticisms of Hagel.  Instead, my point of departure is with Quin’s reliance on procedural obstruction rather than tough questioning and reasoned argument.  Conservatives have one of the most intellectually articulate groups of senators in living memory with the likes of Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and others.  Let them and military stalwarts like John McCain and Lindsey Graham make a coordinated, sustained case against Hagel and his views on foreign policy.  In the process, they might even discover a countervailing vision that convinces the American people.

December 28th, 2012 at 4:30 pm
Filibuster Reform Seems Imminent

The Hill is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has the 51 votes needed to change the upper chamber’s filibuster rules.  Historically, rules changes to Senate procedure are done with two-thirds support (currently 67 votes) in order to ensure bipartisanship.  Making the change with only 51 Senators would mean only the majority of Democrats favor the move.

An ad hoc group of Senators from both parties is trying to broker a compromise reform that would speed certain processes along – such as some judicial nominations and the amending of bills – but so far their version of reform doesn’t include the most obvious change: Actually requiring an objecting Senator to verbally filibuster.

Call me simplistic, but I think presidential nominations should get an up-or-down vote, and filibusters should be real.  There’s too much posturing in politics.  I’d much rather see politicians put their reasons on the record than suffer through another year of finger-pointing.

September 29th, 2012 at 6:11 pm
Obama’s Clinton Conundrum

Politico on why the Obama campaign is using former President Bill Clinton so often:

As the campaign acknowledges, Clinton brings credibility to the connection between an Obama presidency and a strong economy, reinforcing the idea that there’s a straight line between Obama’s proposals and Clinton’s legacy of budget surpluses and middle class prosperity.

It’s only a credible connection if you don’t consider the wildly differing contexts.

As Tim pointed out earlier this month, “the so-called “Clinton surpluses” didn’t arrive until 1998, four years after Newt Gingrich and the Republicans captured Congress for the first time in four decades, and six years after Clinton was elected.  Given the fact that Congress controls the budget under our Constitution, it is therefore disingenuous for Clinton and his apologists to claim sole credit.”

Thus, if in 2012 the Obama camp really wants to make the case that a national economic recovery is just around the corner, it should have prayed for a complete conservative takeover of Congress in 2010.  Had he been faced with an entire branch of government – not just the House – passing real budgets, chances are the Obama White House would have had a Clintonesque opportunity to make a deal.

Instead, Obama has had no incentive to move to the middle for the sake of compromise because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has been willing to abdicate his chamber’s constitutional responsibility to pass a new budget for the last three years of Obama’s term of office.  And so the President dithers while the economy sputters.

Call it the Clinton Conundrum.  Both Clinton and Obama are doctrinaire liberals whose policy impulses created pushes to nationalize health care.  Both prefer to raise taxes and spend money.  But Clinton, unlike Obama, was saved from oblivion when Republicans took over both houses of Congress in 1994 and (implicitly and unintentionally) made him an offer he didn’t refuse: either adopt our reform agenda or face defeat in reelection.  Clinton accepted and has benefited ever since.  Obama’s choice was between Senate Democrat dithering and House Republican reform.  He sided with his party and hasn’t governed since.

If Barack Obama wants Bill Clinton’s success, he’ll have to adopt Bill Clinton’s policies.  In large part, that means adopting conservative budget reforms so that he can claim credit for a rebounding economy.

August 3rd, 2012 at 8:00 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Harry Reid Has No Brain
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

March 14th, 2012 at 12:40 pm
Utah Conservatives Looking for an Escape Hatch
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Though you won’t hear much about it in the press, tomorrow will be a big day for the Tea Party movement. That’s because it will be the day that Republican voters caucus throughout Utah to pick their delegates to the state convention — delegates who, in turn, will choose which candidates to put on the Beehive State’s June primary ballot.

This is momentous because there’s a big push by Tea Partiers — with FreedomWorks leading the charge — to unseat incumbent Republican Senator Orrin Hatch and replace him with a more conservative alternative. This is how Politico frames it:

The group’s tactics are the latest chapter of the debate still hounding Republicans as they try to win a majority on Capitol Hill this November: Should they purge their own to find fresh blood who will be less willing to seek bipartisan compromises by straying from conservative principles? Or should they unite behind the most electable candidate and train all their fire power on Democrats?

Allow me to answer both of those questions: yes.

It’s all a matter of political prudence. One of the lessons of the 2010 midterm senate races was the importance of finding the right candidate for the right jurisdiction — and that means different things in different places. In Utah, for instance, which is the most Republican state in the nation, it was utterly sensible to replace incumbent Bob Bennett (not exactly a liberal, but not really a constitutional conservative either) with Tea Party darling Mike Lee, knowing that Lee could easily carry the general election in the fall. The Tea Party was similarly shrewd in getting behind Marco Rubio in Florida, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, and Rand Paul in Kentucky.

There were a few missteps, however. The hyper-conservative Sharron Angle was a poor choice for the swing state of Nevada, where either Sue Lowden or Danny Tarkanian (both of whom would have voted as conventional conservatives) would have stood a better chance at defeating Harry Reid. Even less suited for her contest was Christine O’Donnell, the conservative firebrand running in deep-blue Delaware. O’Donnell’s primary opponent, the moderate-to-liberal Republican Mike Castle, would doubtlessly have taken many votes as a U.S. Senator that would have made conservatives squirm — but fewer than the eventual winner, Democrat Chris Coons, who Castle likely would have beaten had he been the nominee.

So what does this principle mean for Utah? Hatch, like Bennett before him, has been an able public servant, who has, most of the time, been in conservatism if not exactly of conservatism. Were he from a swing state where moving to the right could be an electoral death sentence, then that would probably be a sufficient argument for retaining him. That’s not the case in Utah, however. And the state’s conservatives are going to have a hard time turning down the opportunity to elect another senator as consistently principled in his defense of limited government as Mike Lee.

It doesn’t help either that the best argument against Hatch comes from Hatch. I’ll let Politico have the final word:

In Utah, FreedomWorks distributed a 44-page brochure to 37,000 potential convention-goers, highlighting Hatch’s positions over the years on earmarks, the bank bailout and deals with Ted Kennedy over a child health care law.

On the inside page of the brochure is a quote from Hatch during his first campaign in 1976 against 18-year incumbent Sen. Frank Moss: “What do you call a senator who’s served in office for 18 years? You call him home.”

October 19th, 2011 at 9:23 pm
Harry Reid Says He’s “Just Fine” with Unemployment Numbers
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Count us surprised here at CFIF that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has any hangups about the current state of the economy. Remember, this is the man who said last year that without him the world would have slumped into a global depression. Apparently, though, the senior senator from Nevada has now realized there is a crisis — too little government spending going towards public employees:

9.1 percent of Americans are currently unemployed, as are 13.4 percent of Senator Reid’s fellow Nevadans. “Just fine”, we suppose, is a relative concept.

October 10th, 2011 at 10:15 pm
No Matter the Outcome, Congressional Supercommittee Set to Do Damage
Posted by Troy Senik Print

I’ve written at length here at CFIF about the doomsday scenario that will ensue should the congressional supercommittee fail to pass at least $1.2 trillion in debt reduction by its November 23 deadline. Because of an outrageous provision in last summer’s debt ceiling agreement, a fail to act would produce defense cuts that could end up cutting as much as $1 trillion from American’s national security budget.

While the supercommittee’s broad goal of debt reduction is laudable, congressional Democrats are digging in their heels and asserting that the real problem is that Americans are being taxed too lightly, not that Washington is spending too much. From the Associated Press:

The supercommittee is struggling. After weeks of secret meetings, the 12-member deficit-cutting panel established under last summer’s budget and debt deal appears no closer to a breakthrough than when talks began last month…

Democrats won’t go for an agreement that doesn’t include new tax revenue; Republicans are just as ardently antitax. The impasse over revenues means that Democrats won’t agree to cuts to popular entitlement programs like Medicare…

 “There’s been no movement on (new) revenues, and I’m not sure the Democrats will agree to anything without revenues,” said a Democratic lobbyist who required anonymity to speak candidly.

Let’s be clear here: either scenario — either massive cuts to the Pentagon’s budget or higher taxes — would imperil America’s ability to maintain its global leadership position. The former would gut our defense resources now, while the latter would hollow out our ability to generate the economic growth that will be necessary to fund our military in the future.

Unfortunately, the only sensible option available is to punt. The supercommittee deserves to go bust if it can’t find $1.2 trillion in unnecessary federal spending. When it fails to do so, Congress should pass a separate piece of legislation overriding the “triggers” that will wreak havoc with defense spending.

The debt crisis simply won’t be solved while Harry Reid and John Boehner are squaring off on Capitol Hill and Barack Obama is in the White House. Better instead to wait for Republicans to gain control of the Senate — and hopefully the presidency — in the 2012 elections. At that point, the debt can be meaningfully reduced through sharp spending reductions, entitlement reform, and a root-and-branch reform of the tax system that can increase revenue while spurring economic growth.  In the meantime, America’s military can be kept intact.

 

September 27th, 2011 at 12:33 pm
Communities, Not Congress, Fund Disaster Relief

The Heritage Foundation has a masterful indictment of Senator Harry Reid’s (D-NV) ham-handed attempt to use a FEMA budget bill to score political points.  Last week, Reid deliberately killed a House-passed continuing resolution funding FEMA for $3.5 billion while cutting $200 million in subsidies similar to the Solyndra loan fiasco.  Angry at the cuts, Reid sidelined the House bill and introduced his own with no cuts and more spending.

Yet when the Senate sensibly defeated Reid’s proposal, he chastised the chamber in a bizarre floor speech that tried to pin blame on Republicans for leaving disaster victims out in the cold.

Besides refusing responsibility for holding victims hostage so more green jobs could be subsidized, Reid’s implication was that without billions in taxpayer money, citizens would be left to fend for themselves.

As Heritage shows, Reid’s argument is simply not so.  With just a bit of calling around, the think tank found that disaster victims in Pennsylvania were being assisted by the Wyoming County United Way, the Seven Loaves Soup Kitchen and the Weinberg Regional Food Bank.  Each of these private voluntary groups reported record numbers of donations and applications to assist.

As with any disaster, everyday Americans don’t wait for the government to mobilize.  Instead, they roll up their sleeves, stuff sand bags, serve hot food and help the devastated rebuild their lives and communities.  For statists like Harry Reid, people die without the government.  For those living in the real world, it’s people – not bureaucracies – that make recovery possible.

July 25th, 2011 at 11:35 am
Congressional Democrats Tacitly Admitting Obama is Inept
Posted by Troy Senik Print

For the past two and a half years, it’s been the exclusive provenance of the right to point out that President Obama often seems overmatched by his job. But after this weekend’s latest round of debt ceiling negotiations — where a newly irascible President Obama was nowhere to be seen amidst the congressional horse-trading — it’s becoming clear that Democrats on the hill are starting to think the same thing. The ugly details are fleshed out by Craig Crawford, writing in the Huffington Post:

While the GOP obviously would savor a solution to the debt-ceiling crisis that gives Obama no credit, why are Democratic leaders so willing to cut him out?

The answer might be found in growing concerns among veteran Capitol Hill Democrats that their president is a lousy negotiator.

Although they see him as a talented public communicator, his short time as a senator and painfully slow learning curve as president leads congressional Democrats to think it best to take over and provide cover for him once the deal is done.

“A talented public communicator” who can’t negotiate? The Democrats are essentially saying that the president is really good at talking about his job, just weak when it comes to actually doing it. This, my friends, is what the wag who coined the phrase “damning with faint praise” had in mind.

June 21st, 2011 at 6:38 pm
Harry Reid Endorses Huntsman?
Posted by Troy Senik Print

A few weeks ago, as CFIF’s own Ashton Ellis was busy delineating the parade of horribles that is former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman’s record, he noted that one of the more chilling (and insightful) stories involving Huntsman in recent months was the quasi-endorsement offered to him by Jimmy Carter.

Well, Huntsman (who is an official GOP presidential candidate as of this morning) keeps bringing the hits. The latest comes from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. As CNN’s Political Ticker reports:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ventured into the 2012 presidential waiting game Tuesday, offering up his pick for the Republican presidential nomination.

“If I had a choice, I would favor Huntsman over Romney,” Reid told reporters after a meeting on Capitol Hill. “But I don’t have a choice in that race.”

Poor Harry. He’s been through a lot because of the declining influence of Democrats in Congress over the last year. And now he won’t even get one red cent for creating a pitch-perfect campaign ad for Mitt Romney.

As for Huntsman, he’s now earned the approval of President Obama, former President Carter, and Harry Reid. He’s one endorsement in The Nation away from being the next Democratic presidential nominee.

June 2nd, 2011 at 5:59 pm
California’s Shameless Legislators Make Congress Look Good by Comparison
Posted by Troy Senik Print

In 2009 and 2010, the news out of Washington was dominated by stories of Congress rushing through legislation without reading it, voting in the middle of the night, and generally disregarding the adjective in the term “representative government.” Perhaps more than the specifics of policies like the stimulus package, Obamacare, and cap and trade, it was this disdain for honest dealing that set the public firmly in opposition to the Pelosi-Reid Congress and precipitated the blowout midterm elections of 2010.

As with most pathologies in American politics, what’s bad in Washington is usually even worse in Sacramento. The Sacramento Bee reports today:

Numerous bills to crack down on California lawmakers have been shelved quietly by the Legislature in recent weeks.

Casualties included proposals to bar middle-of-the-night legislative sessions, to restrict lawmakers from receiving pay for serving on state boards within four years of leaving office, and to require annual disclosure by public officials of their pay, benefits, travel and other compensation.

Legislators opted not to dock per-diem pay for absences or to create a “do not call” list for campaign robocalls.

What’s consistently fascinating about California politics is that, for all the dysfunction of state government, the Golden State doesn’t have a criminal political culture akin to Illinois or New Jersey, states where the capstone of a successful electoral career is often a stint in federal prison. And why would it? With six-figure legislative salaries and virtually guaranteed appointments to one of the (literally innumerable) state boards and commissions that act as legislative rest homes, one need not break the law to plunder the taxpayers.

As with most of its deficiencies, California would do well to replicate the example of Texas, a state that has shown that a massive population and a sophisticated economy do not necessitate governmental incompetence. Texas has a part-time legislature that only convenes once every two years. The stated goal of this policy: to protect the liberties of the people of Texas. Considering that Texas has created more jobs in the last five years than every other state combined, that seems to be a decent formula.

The upshot: California can take Texas’s principles or Texas can take California’s jobs. Reforming the way the Golden State’s feckless legislature does business would be a good start towards the former end.

March 31st, 2011 at 5:41 pm
Tea Party’s Lesson from Budget Fight: Go Bigger Next Time

Bloomberg reports that the rumored $33 billion in cuts being negotiated by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is looking like the key number both sides are working towards.  For perspective, that’s $28 billion less than the House of Representatives passed a few weeks ago, and $67 billion less than Republicans promised during last year’s mid-term elections.

When the $61 billion cut was passed, Tea Party-backed legislators accepted the reduction under the assumption that half a loaf is better than nothing at all.  Now, the loaf is down to a third, and activists are having none of it.

Whatever sum gets approved, it’s a sure bet the Tea Party and the members of Congress friendly to it won’t forget the importance of starting the cut threshold even higher next time.  At this rate, don’t be surprised if the 2012 battle cry is, “$500 Billion in Cuts or Fight!”