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Monday, September 29, 2008

Elections have consequences, and one of those is that Pelosi bears responsibility for the financial bill's defeat

To apportion credit or blame where due, you might want to read my late afternoon guest-post at HughHewitt.com.

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[Copied here for archival purposes on November 5, 2008, from the post linked above at HughHewitt.com.]

(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)

My gracious host here, Hugh Hewitt, often reminds us all that elections have consequences. The consequence of the 2006 elections was to put voting control of both chambers of Congress directly in the hands of the Democratic Party, led by Nancy Pelosi in the House and Harry Reid in the Senate. In the House in particular, with its lack of debate rules like those the Senate uses to permit filibustering, when a piece of legislation passes or fails to pass, that result can be — must be, under hallowed principles of democracy — laid at the feet of the majority party.

Well, here's the result on the bill intended to restore order to our financial markets: It was defeated this afternoon in the House by a vote of 228-205. Only 140 Democrats voted for the bill. By contrast, "[a] switch of just 12 members would have reversed the outcome, and 95 Democrats, many the left wing of the party, contributed to the defeat."

Speaker Pelosi took the opportunity today to deliver a highly partisan, provocative, and frankly offensive speech immediately before voting on the bill intended to restore order to our financial markets. She found time to go out of her way to blame Republicans, including GOP members of the House, for the current financial crisis. Was her target audience the public? Perhaps. Could she be certain, though, that she would not decisively offend waivering Republicans who were considering voting for the bill? Of course not. Could she be certain that she would not also encourage members of her own party to vote against it, in a show of their own frenzy to point the finger of blame for the current crisis at the full-time object of their dementia, George W. Bush? Of course not. The occasion called for a speech displaying moderation and statesmanship, but Pelosi served up partisan venom.

What Speaker Pelosi did not, do, however, is even more significant: She did not bother to invoke the mechanisms of legitimate party discipline that have evolved over time by which party leaders can pressure their reluctant members. Per Ben Pershing of the WaPo (boldface mine):

House leaders, meanwhile, did support the bill and did whip it. But this wasn't a party-loyalty vote; lawmakers were asked to vote yes, but they weren't threatened. They (probably) weren't bribed. Add all that up, and you had a power vacuum.

Pelosi gave the members of her own party, in other words, a "pass" to make a political anti-Bush, anti-GOP statement. And make no mistake about this: When permitted by Pelosi to do so without party consequences, the Hard Left Democrats in the House put the opportunity to deliver their own raised middle finger to Dubya and the GOP ahead of the stability of the nation's financial markets.

In fairness, neither, apparently, did House GOP leaders make this a "party-loyalty vote." But once again, precisely because elections have consequences, the bill being considered wasn't the House Republicans' bill. It wasn't any longer what their party's president had submitted, either, and there's no guarantee that it will be their party's Treasury Secretary who will be administering the resulting program after January 2009. What was put to a vote did have some significant revisions that were, indeed, the result of vigorous GOP negotiations to make it more attractive to Republicans and to fiscal conservatives generally. Those revisions, plus lobbying from the GOP presidential nominee John McCain and the Bush-43 Administration, brought fully one-third of the House Republicans to vote for a bill whose particulars and ultimate fate were controlled by the Democratic majority. In a House numerically dominated by Democrats, on a bill nominally supported by Democratic Party leaders (including its presidential candidate), that ought to have been more than enough GOP support.

If you view the bill's defeat as a good thing, which substantial numbers of Republican congressmen and their constituents did believe, in absolute good faith, then there are many to whom you can extend thanks.

If, however, you viewed passage of the bill as a good thing — which I, reluctantly, did — then there's exactly one person who bears responsibility for its defeat. Responsibility falls on Speaker Pelosi not just because of her specific actions in this matter (which were deplorable), but because elections have consequences, and the consequence in 2006 was to give her more than ample institutional power to swing at least another 12 members of her party to produce the opposite outcome on this vote. "With great power comes great responsibility" is such a truism that it can become the motto of a comic book and movie superhero. It's a shame that the Democrat who's Speaker of the House can't grasp the concept.

— Beldar

Posted by Beldar at 08:00 PM in Congress, Current Affairs, Politics (2008) | Permalink

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Comments

(1) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Sep 29, 2008 10:35:29 PM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: This is high stakes politics. If, as you honestly believe, the bailout is a good thing, Pelosi holds the responsibility for the bill's defeat. But not the blame: "Responsiblity" is the fool's gold of ethics, often mistaken for blame, but not by those with power. The press will see that the GOP gets the blame.

If, like me, you honestly and reluctantly believe the defeated bill was a bad thing, the defeat is a chance to get a better bill, i.e. one drafted more in the open, with the bunkum from both sides. It would be easier to believe there was a crisis if e.g. Dodd hadn't tried to jam through a payoff to ACORN in it.

Note, too, that by having the bill fail in the House, The One hovering in the Senate, can claim to be in favor, without actually having to vote for it, and thereby take a stand. To be sure, he owes Pelosi another IOU, but do you really think he'll mind paying that off? And if there is a gigantic smash, any time in the next year, not to worry, it can and will be blamed on the GOP. See, e.g.
Howard Fineman:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26933982/

Yes, the GOP is on the hook for everything so far as the press goes. This suits the Democrats. What do they care if the country goes south for a good long time if it means the Democrats get the White House, and with the Congress, a not-so-thin-wedge into the judiciary?

Vote for the Grumpy Old Man.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(2) Jim,MtnViewCA,USA made the following comment | Sep 30, 2008 2:51:07 PM | Permalink

sadly, this will pay off for the Dems.
big voting blocks like gov't workers and gov't recipients don't need a healthy economy.
other constituencies like idealists won't object.
enviros will celebrate the destruction of the US economy.
and the GOP gets the blame.
win win win (for the Dems).

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