Thursday, February 26, 2009

Blue Dogs Bare Their Fangs Over Budget-- Fail

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Jane's nemisis Jim Cooper prefers this photo to one of his mug

Yesterday afternoon David Obey presented the Omnibus Appropriations bill for the fiscal year ending September, 2009, H.R. 1105 and it passed 245-178, with 20 Democrats crossing the aisle to vote with the Republicans while 16 Republicans crossed in the other direction, essentially canceling out the Blue Dog "show of force." All the Democrats voting "no," except Jackie Speier, were either Blue Dogs or fellow travelers, a lame gaggle of conservative grandstanders:

Melissa Bean (Blue Dog-IL)
Dennis Cardoza (Blue Dog-CA)
Travis Childers (Blue Dog-MS)
Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN)
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
Joe Donnelly (Blue Dog-IN)
Steve Driehaus (OH)
Gabby Giffords (Blue Dog-AZ)
Baron Hill (Blue Dog-IN)
Ron Kind (WI)
Frank Kratovil (Blue Dog-MD)
Jim Marshall (Blue Dog-GA)
Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT)
Walt Minnick (ID)
Harry Mitchell (Blue Dog-AZ)
Glenn Nye (Blue Dog-VA)
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
John Tanner (TN)
Gene Taylor (Blue Dog-MS)

One of Congress' most reactionary kooks and reflexive obstructionists is Arizona wingnut Jeff Flake. But that doesn't mean that Flake is always wrong on everything. Yesterday he moved to help put a real end to corruption by abolishing lobbyists #1 tool, the earmark. Sure some earmarks are used for good things... absolutely. Proponents should bring them up in the House and have them voted on. On the other hand, billions of dollars in taxpayer funds are stolen and the entire political class is corrupted by lobbyists seeking earmarks for their clients. Flake's motion was worthy of support but it died when only 17 Democrats would get behind it. Among the ones who did-- going up against the smarmy Democratic leadership-- were many scummy Blue Dogs and some progressive good government types who care about the difference between right and wrong, such as Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Paul Hodes (D-NH), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Larry Kissell (D-NC), and Jim Himes (D-CT) and with Peter Welch (D-VT), Kathy Castor (D-FL) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) abstaining.

Pathetically, Democrats are defending earmarks by pointing out Republicans-- who American voters already detest for being corrupt-- do it too. Yes, they do; and that's part of why they were kicked out of office. Disgracefully, Hoyer distributed a handout yesterday claiming “You can’t spell ‘earmark’ without an ‘R,’” which stated that 40% of the earmark dollars included in the omnibus spending bill were put there by Republicans.

As part of yesterday's proceeding Jim McGovern (D-MA) offered an amendment to freeze the congressional pay raise for 2010. It passed 393-25. Only 7 Democrats and 18 Republicans voted no.
Republicans, in an unusual move, mostly voted for the Democratic rule governing debate, because they didn’t want to be targeted by campaign ads that they voted in favor of raising their pay.

The rule on debate contained the amendment freezing 2010’s pay increase, and Republicans said Democrats trapped them into voting for the rule by attaching the pay-freezing measure.

“It was kind of a manipulative thing to do,” said a Republican aide. “It was unusual that we supported the rule, especially one on a bill that we have so many problems with, but because of what they did with the pay increase, they could have used that vote against us.”

...The Senate has not made a final decision on its 2010 salaries, though members of the upper chamber are not expected to get a raise next year.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) has offered legislation that would stop lawmakers from getting an automatic pay increase in 2011.

The members voting against the amendment were mostly far right members of their respective caucuses, like Dan Boren, Walt Minnick, Collin Peterson and Gene Taylor among the Democrats and Paul Broun (R-GA), Nathan Deal (R-GA), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Steve King (R-IA), Doug Lamborn (R-CO) Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Lynn Westmoreland and Don Young (R-AK) among the Repugs.

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