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Monday, September 29, 2008

Key to economic stability bill's defeat was Pelosi's refusal to make this a "party loyalty" vote on the Democratic Party's bill

It's not just, or even mostly, Republican nay-sayers who were against the bill either on principle or because they were offended by Pelosi's partisan speech. The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 was Democratic bill — not Bush's bill, not the GOP's bill, and it went down to defeat because Speaker Pelosi refused to use the tools at her disposal to persuade another dozen Democrats (out of 95 who voted against it) to vote for it. So shows my latest 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)

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the number two House Democrat in authority (behind only Speaker Nancy Pelosi), in defending his party from responsibility for the defeat of the financial stability bill today, delivered the all-time lamest excuse I've ever heard (my transcription from video on the PBS NewsHour; boldface mine):

"No Democrat that we could get to vote for the bill didn't vote for the bill."

Behind that tortured double-negative is a tautology. This is empty double-talk — delivered by the dishonest, intended for the gullible.

Here's a short civics lesson, one that any defender of the Democratic Party badly needs for you to forget today:

An indispensable part of the genius of the American two-party political system is that it provides each party's leadership with a whole range of tools to enforce party discipline. There are committee assignments. There are office locations. There are discretionary decisions on staffing and funding of staffs. There is a panoply of carrots and sticks that party leaders from both parties can and do use to influence their members' votes. There are even party officials — "whips" — whose entire position is to facilitate the application of those carrots and sticks. And this isn't even vote-trading on issues, much less any sort of overt corruption. It's just the day-in, day-out working of Congress, and such has been the grease that has permitted the great wheels of legislation to turn since the birth of the Republic. Indeed, you can find parallels to it in the Roman Republic two millennia ago.

Past masters of the practice include such legislative legends as Speaker Sam Rayburn (D-TX) in the House and Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson (D-TX) in the Senate, but these tools are quite effective even in the hands of such modern-day legislators as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid — if, but of course only if, they choose to take those tools in hand and apply them.

Ninety-five Democrats bucked their party leadership today precisely because Nancy Pelosi made it cost-free for them to do so. By refusing to make this a "party loyalty vote" — and thereby giving a clear signal to every Democratic member of the House that there would be neither carrots nor sticks applied by the House leadership — Speaker Pelosi ensured that even the mere dozen additional Democratic votes needed for passage wouldn't be there.

The indisputable fact is that the Democratic leadership of the House consciously declined to use the tools available to them that would have ensured the passage of this bill. Period, end of paragraph, and end of the story for today. This is a matter of simple arithmetic and standard party practices. It is not a matter that can even be seriously debated. It is only a matter that Democrats like Majority Leader Hoyer can attempt to conceal, as he does in the statement quoted above, by misleading the public about how hard the Democratic leadership actually tried.

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UPDATE (Mon Sep 29 @ 7:50 p.m. CST): Another thing about which there can be no disagreement is that what was defeated today was a Democratic bill. H.R. 3997 has had a complicated procedural history that was controlled at every step of the way by Congressional Democrats.

Specifically, H.R. 3997 was originally introduced by Rep. Charles D. Rangel (D-NY) as an amendment to the tax code "to provide earnings assistance and tax relief to members of the uniformed services, volunteer firefighters, and Peace Corps volunteers." By a pair of affirmative votes earlier today, however, a resolution offered by Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY) effectively converted H.R. 3997 into the "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008." It too was drafted by Congressional Dems and their staff, varying substantially from what had originally been proposed by Secretary Paulson and the Bush-43 Administration, and incorporating only such requests and suggestions from the House GOP as the Democratic leadership decided to agree to.

This is the Democratic Congress' bill, but when it came to a roll-call vote in the House, the Democratic leadership wouldn't do what it took to get it passed even though (a) they have a huge majority and (b) a full one-third of Republicans in the House went along. Anyone who calls this "Bush's bill" or "a GOP bill" is either deliberately lying or abysmally informed about the basic workings of Congress.

— Beldar

Posted by Beldar at 08:05 PM in Congress, Current Affairs, Politics (2008) | Permalink

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Comments

(1) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Sep 29, 2008 10:56:03 PM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: I have one objection to your reasoning, viz: Pelosi counted the votes in advance and let it fail. The margin, about twelve votes is slender. This would square if the Speaker was Rayburn or O'Neill, because they are universally acknowledged as Speakers who not only could count 'em but also could drive through a bill (and had the judgement to decide when to do it.) But Pelosi has a rep as a lightweight, if not a dummy who hasn't been an effective Speaker and isn't particularly good at counting. Could this perception be wrong? If so, Pelosi is a more formidable opponent than we give her credit for.

What do you think of this second argument, namely that the amount of whipping is limited because the election is so close? Let Pelosi twist arms too tightly, and the twisted Representative has a new theme to sell the folks back home: Those G*dd*m Big Shots Couldn't Push Me Around With This Stinky Bill! I Stood Up For You!! Vote For Shirley O'Hog, the People's Choice for Independence and Fearlessness!!! And so on, with more and more exclamation points until even the voters in the gerrymandered Democratic districts vomit.

What do you think?

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(2) jimmy made the following comment | Oct 2, 2008 1:25:13 PM | Permalink

John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison both voted FOR the bailout last night.

Today I dropped my support of Sen Cornyn and his re-election to the post of Senator, and I sent the Cornyn campaign and Sen Cornyn himself an email letting them know, it can be read in the thread linked above.

In a very short time I was contaced by Vincent Harris, wanting my phone number, their campaign manager wanted to talk to me, and I told him NO, I could not, and would not support ANY candidate that voted to bailout $700B, a figure that is still low, actual figures are reported closer to $820B, and that I was pulling their logo from TexasFred's, The American Conservative and The Texas Connection, and I did.

Jimmy Kerr of But That's Just My Opinion posted a message in my comments saying he had done the same thing. Jimmy and I are trying to contact and encourage as many Texas bloggers as possible to contact Vincent and let him know that YOU are doing the same thing as well, lets send Cornyn a HUGE, Texas sized message!

Please, if you believe that this is a very important issue, PLEASE contact Vincent and tell him that you're dropping the logo too, and ask to be removed from their blog roll, no LINK is that important, request that your blog be taken OFF of their roll...

Contact Vincent here:
[email protected]
http://www.johncornyn.com

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