Unhinged. Petulant. Finger-pointing. Back-stabbing. The Democrats are their own worst enemies. The Washington Post reports on the Big Blue crack-up this morning in an A1 story. Here’s your morning cup of schadenfreude:
When Democrats took control of Congress in January, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) pledged to jointly push an ambitious agenda to counter 12 years of Republican control.
Now, as Congress struggles to adjourn for Christmas, relations between House Democrats and their colleagues in the Senate have devolved into finger-pointing.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) accuses Senate Democratic leaders of developing “Stockholm syndrome,” showing sympathy to their Republican captors by caving in on legislation to provide middle-class tax cuts paid for with tax increases on the super-rich, tying war funding to troop withdrawal timelines, and mandating renewable energy quotas. If Republicans want to filibuster a bill, Rangel said, Reid should keep the bill on the Senate floor and force the Republicans to talk it to death.
Reid, in turn, has taken to the Senate floor to criticize what he called the speaker’s “iron hand” style of governance.
Dems aren’t having a merry Christmas season:
In the past few weeks, the House has thrown wave after wave of legislation at the Senate — on energy, Iraq war policy, the housing and mortgage crisis, and middle-income tax cuts offset largely by tax increases on the wealthy.
Most of it has died quietly, a predetermined fate that both sides could foresee before the first vote was cast. Yet they went ahead anyway. Just last night, the House, for a second time, passed legislation to stave off the growth of the alternative minimum tax, to be paid for by a measure to stop hedge fund managers from deferring compensation in offshore tax havens. Like the previous House version, it has virtually no chance of passing in the Senate.
Officially, House Democrats blame Senate Republicans, who have used parliamentary tactics to block even uncontroversial measures. But they are increasingly expressing public frustration with Reid and Senate Democrats for not putting up a better fight.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) called it a “hold and fold” strategy: Senate Republicans put a “hold” on Democratic bills, and Senate Democratic leaders promptly fold their tents.
We’ve come a long way, baby:
Jan. 4, 2007 Pelosi speech upon being elected speaker of the House:
“Thank you my colleagues, thank you leader (John) Boehner (R-Ohio).
“I accept this gavel in the spirit of partnership, not partisanship, and I look forward to working with you Mr. Boehner and the Republicans in the Congress on behalf of the American people.
“After giving away this gavel in the last two Congress’, I’m glad someone else had the honor today.
“In this House, we may belong to different parties, but we serve one country. We stand united in our pride and prayers for our men and women in the armed forces. They are working together to protect America, and we, in this House, must also work together to build a future worthy of their sacrifice.
…”This is an historic moment — and I thank the leader for acknowledging it. I think you Leader Boehner. It is an historic moment for the Congress, and an historic moment for the women of this country. It is a moment for which we have waited over 200 years. Never losing faith, we waited through the many years of struggle to achieve our rights. But women weren’t just waiting; women were working. Never losing faith, we worked to redeem the promise of America, that all men and women are created equal. For our daughters and granddaughters, today we have broken the marble ceiling. For our daughters and our granddaughters, the sky is the limit, anything is possible for them.
“The election of 2006 was a call to change — not merely to change the control of Congress, but for a new direction for our country. Nowhere were the American people more clear about the need for a new direction than in the war in Iraq.
“The American people rejected an open-ended obligation to a war without end. Shortly, President Bush will address the nation on the subject of Iraq. It is the responsibility of the president to articulate a new plan for Iraq that makes it clear to the Iraqis that they must defend their own streets and their own security, a plan that promotes stability in the region, and a plan that allows us to responsibly redeploy our troops.
“Let us work together to be the Congress that rebuilds our military to meet the national security challenges of the 21st century.
“Let us be the Congress that strongly honors our responsibility to protect the American people from terrorism.
“Let us be the Congress that never forgets our commitment to our veterans and our first responders, always honoring them as the heroes that they are.
“The American people also spoke clearly for a new direction here at home — they desire a new vision, a new America, built on the values that have made our country great.
“Our founders envisioned a new America driven by optimism, opportunity, and strength. So confident were they in the America they were advancing, they put on the seal, the great seal of the United States, ‘novus ordo seclorum’ — a new order for the centuries. Centuries, they spoke of the centuries. They envisioned America as a just and good place, as a fair and efficient society, as a source of opportunity for all.
“This vision has sustained us for over 200 years, and it accounts for what is best in our great nation: liberty, opportunity, and justice.
“Now it is our responsibility to carry forth that vision of a new America into the 21st Century.
“A new America that seizes the future and forges 21st Century solutions through discovery, creativity, and innovation, sustaining our economic leadership and ensuring our national security.
“A new America with a vibrant and strengthened middle class for whom college is affordable, health care is accessible, and retirement reliable.
“A new America that declares our energy independence, promotes domestic sources of renewable energy, and combats climate change.
“A new America that is strong, secure, and a respected leader among the community of nations.
“And the American people told us they expected us to work together for fiscal responsibility, with the highest ethical standards and with civility and bipartisanship.
“After years of historic deficits, this 110th Congress will commit itself to a higher standard: pay as you go, no new deficit spending. Our new America will provide unlimited opportunity for future generations, not burden them with mountains of debt.
“In order to achieve our new America for the 21st Century, we must return this House to the American people. So our first order of business is passing the toughest congressional ethics reform in history. This new Congress doesn’t have two years or 200 days.
“Let us join together in the first 100 hours to make this Congress the most honest and open Congress in history – 100 hours.
“This openness requires respect for every voice in the Congress. As Thomas Jefferson said, ‘Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.’ My colleagues elected me to be Speaker of the House — the entire House. Respectful of the vision of our Founders, the expectations of our people, and the great challenges that we face, we have an obligation to reach beyond partisanship to work for all Americans.
“Let us all stand together to move our country forward, seeking common ground for the common good.
“We have made history, now let us make progress for our the America people.
“May God bless our work, and may God bless America.”