I had intended to write a rather long essay as a follow up to Palomino’s excellent essay yesterday about the folly of Democratic tactics in pursuit of strategy. I’d wanted to use the flame-war going on between Anglachel’s Journal, Corrente and the Confluence to demonstrate how Democrats get themselves into trouble when they try to justify power grabs, which is exactly what Anglachel and Mandos where trying to do with the housing bubble and the CRA expansion, both of which where bad Democratic ideas. I may still get to it later this weekend, but today I want to talk about something that is not getting the fair airing it should.
The Democratic Party effectively died on May 31, 2008, with the manufactured back-room dealings on the part of major party power players. But that event was merely the result of the Democratic Party ignoring its own rules. That was the day the donkey died. Now Democrats have crossed the same Constitutional line that Bush and his cohorts routinely traversed for eight long years. They now own the shitpile, and they own the smoking pile of ash that was our Constitution. Let Wednesday, October 1st be known as Black Wednesday, the Day The Eagle Died. No one protects the Constitution anymore, or adheres to it.
So what is this all about and why haven’t you heard about it before? Well, if you’d been paying close attention (not an easy thing to do since the entire circus of this week was designed to confuse you and force your emotions to the front in order to blind you), you would have heard Barney Frank address the issue yesterday in that astounding press conference the Democratic leadership of both houses held, which was allowed to drone on forever on CNN. If you have been watching C-SPAN (House), you would have seen Republican lawmakers talking about it. So what happened?
According to our Constitution (Article 1, Section 7), all revenue bills must originate in the House of Representatives:
All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.
For as long as our country has been operating under this document, every single time the government wanted to spend money, it went to the House. That’s what the words re-printed above actually mean. The House controls the purse strings. If that is the case, you may be asking yourself, then how in the heck did the Senate get to vote on this bail out first? That, my friend, is a very good question to be asking. You won’t believe what they did.
They took an old bill and called what they did an amendment to that old bill, and then passed it off to the House to vote again. But this wasn’t just any old bill. It was the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. That code is our tax code, also known as title 26 of the USC (United States Code). That’s right, they amended the United States Tax code, which governs all tax transactions, attaching to it a $700 Billion dollar revolving credit line for Wall Street, as well as a ton of personal pork. Read that again: To the permanent tax code. WHAT THE FUCK?
Note: I was misinformed. The bill they “amended” was H.R. 1424, The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act, passed just last March, and which provided for mental health parity in health insurance. As I understand it, that law is now gone, wiped out by the Senators actions. There are suggestions that this is relatively common practice, but if it is, that’s news to me. And it needs to stop. However, I don’t think the difference in the bill makes it any less egregious, and my commentary stands with this addendum.
That is bad, terrible, really. Evil is an adjective that actually works here. But it is only half the evil. The other half is what they did to the process governed by the Constitution. They essentially changed a 232 year old process in order to make the terminology fit. It’s the grand switcheroo that Bush, Cheney and their crony’s are so famous for. We’ll arrange our words so we’re not technically in violation, but every Tom, Dick, and Harrietta intuitively knows exactly what is going on. We’re getting fucked by authoritarians, who are doing damn well what they please. What they please amounts to personal enrichment at your expense.
And you will not believe the justification that Barney Frank gave in that commentary yesterday. I wish I could find a clip of it. If you stumble across one, please post it in comments. When he got his turn at the lectern, he opened his comments by saying he wanted to comment on the committee arrangements, which is Senate lingo for the process. He acknowledged that they were technically out of order, but he went on to justify that. He said (paraphrasing, not quoting) that the way it played out was better because they had more participation by members than on any other bill this year. That’s his argument. The ends justify the means. And FTR, that is a lame justification, because it wasn’t the jacked process that caused participation, it was the hugeness of this deal, the theft at the heart of it, and the sense of justice still present in our culture that caused a crash in the Apathy Markets. The people cared because it was their purse (note the past tense), and the politicians cared because they had no cover. Not voting was not an option.
This is your Democratic Party, the decline of which I have been documenting here since early June of this year. That press conference yesterday spoke volumes about what this party is about now, and how well they have internalized the lessons of the last 7 years. Nancy Pelosi flitted amid the jocular Senators like a cheerleader in a locker room. There was plenty of back-slapping and joking and a sweeping grand gesture to let the press, the PRESS! document the signature of the Speaker of the House on the biggest shitpile this country has ever served up. Then they rushed the 416 page document over to Bush, who signed it in less than an hour. It was a partnership for the ages, for the ages to come, where Bush’s legacy will remain in tact, and will continue to be pursued, now by the very people who were supposed to save us all from the downward spiral he and his crony’s created. Bye, bye Miss American Pie.
I’m sorry, but I can’t vote for that. Downticket is poison now too.
UPDATE: H/T SugarnSpice. Your New Democratic Party…