A timely op-ed on a day when Biden’s going around telling people that the “heavy lifting” on legislation is finished and that they’re ready to run on what they’ve already passed. That means no more major bills — except, possibly, until the lame-duck session, when even the bare trace of accountability that exists now will be all gone.
Honestly, with huge GOP gains a fait accompli, it’s time to start worrying about this. Loudly and often. Just one question: What can be done to stop them?
As John Fund reports in the Wall Street Journal, Sens. Jay Rockefeller, Kent Conrad and Tom Harkin are already looking forward to what they might get passed in a lame-duck session. Among the major items being considered are card check, budget-balancing through major tax hikes, and climate-change legislation involving heavy carbon taxes and regulation.
Card check, which effectively abolishes the secret ballot in the workplace, is the fondest wish of a union movement to which Obama is highly beholden. Major tax hikes, possibly including a value-added tax, will undoubtedly be included in the recommendations of the president’s debt commission, which conveniently reports by Dec. 1. And carbon taxes would be the newest version of the cap-and-trade legislation that has repeatedly failed to pass the current Congress — but enough dead men walking in a lame-duck session might switch and vote to put it over the top…
How then to prevent a runaway lame-duck Congress? Bring the issue up now — applying the check-and-balance of the people’s will before it disappears the morning after Election Day. Every current member should be publicly asked: In the event you lose in November — a remote and deeply deplorable eventuality, but still not inconceivable — do you pledge to adhere to the will of the electorate and, in any lame-duck session of Congress, refuse to approve anything but the most routine legislation required to keep the government functioning?
His ominous parting line about the possibility of Democrats breaking their pledge: “Call me naive, but I can’t believe anyone would be that dishonorable.” Gulp. Just one question. Is there a single Republican in the Senate — Graham, Collins, Snowe, Brown, etc. — who would dare join with the Democrats to be the 60th vote in passing lame-duck legislation? I just can’t believe it. Graham is already too cowed by the politics of cap and trade to vote for it in a regular session; to do it after they’ve taken a beating at the polls, as a last gasp before a new Congress is seated, would be unthinkable even for him. Exit question: Am I the one who’s being naive now?
Update: No wonder they’re thinking about the lame-duck session. It’s not like any of their signature legislation has helped them in the polls thus far.