Yep, we are still a month away from the 114th Congress (2014’s elections) taking their seats, and we are still governed by another conservative-dominated house – 2012 General Election’s 113th Congress. Sadly, last night’s spending bill is what we have to look forward to going forward.
Here are the lowlights to morn from the NYT editorial this morning that characterized the bill this way
“When the long-lost grail of bipartisan compromise finally re-emerged on Capitol Hill this week, the spending bill for 2015 turned out to be weighted with some of the most devious and damaging provisions imaginable for good government.”
No doubt about it, this is another step back for good government at the national level, which is one of the reasons I’ve chosen to focus on local politics. The cards are stacked against us pretty high given both the tenor and content of right wing propaganda and, now the 2010 redistricting done largely by Republican state governments.
Here is Wiki’s map of the 114th Congress’ House membership by party. It’s pretty bleak as the Republicans have added 9 new recruits, so don’t expect the 2015 or 2016 budgets to get any better.
Here are the lowlights from the NYT:
- One rider would allow a huge increase in the size of checks that deep-pocketed donors can write to win inner-sanctum clout with the major political parties. A donor now held to a mere $97,200 under party limits would be able to give a staggering $777,600…
- The second rider, custom tailored for the banks of Wall Street, would kill a crucial part of the Dodd-Frank reform law aimed at curbing the banks’ reckless speculation in complex derivatives that fueled the banks’ ignominious collapse in 2008 and fed the great recession. …
- …further budget cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency, always a favorite target of the Republican right wing. …
- The Internal Revenue Service, another conservative bête noire, would take one of the harshest cuts, $345.6 million, weakening auditing and taxation. …
- The Fish and Wildlife Service would be banned from adding the greater sage grouse to the endangered species list — a victory for the gas and oil industry, which covets even more of America’s threatened Western landscapes than it already has access to.
The way I see things, my internal narrative that helps me to understand politics on the various stages, local, state and national, is we have a political system overlapping with an economic. Those highly profitable economic interests, those that have been set up and now promise large amounts of money to very few have an incredible sway over mainly the Republican Party, but Democrats often need this money too.
Therefore, to understand power and how government works, one needs to understand a) Wall Street’s influence at the national level, which this bill seems to prove is as strong, if not stronger than ever, and b) oil companies influence on the national and state stages and c) real estate and developer’s interests at the local level. Add the local twist of the ganja and voila, a narrative.
I tend to think this narrative is fairly predictive and thus fairly … well … true. We’ll see. Of course there are a host of other players with big money, from Big Pharma to Big Box Store to Big Medicine, Big Telecommunication, Big…Big, etc. etc. The bigger, the higher the profit margins, the more one can spend to buy government, making government less about being good and more about being profitable for a few.
Resources from the Left:
From the NYT this am: Hiding Bad Policy in a Budget Bill
The dirty secret is that many Democrats want this harmful repeal as much as Republicans do in the shabby, big-money symbiosis between Wall Street and Capitol Hill. Passage of this rider would also signal open season on the rest of the Dodd-Frank reforms when Republicans take control of both houses next year. Though a few Democratic senators plan a counterattack against the Dodd-Frank repeal, there clearly is little appetite on Capitol Hill for responsible, transparent legislating.
Rachel Maddow: Spending Bill Battered from Both Sides
What Rachel does so well here is highlight how the far right wields power. They have absolutely nothing to lose from a government shutdown. In fact, it serves their purpose to prove that government itself is ineffectual and we can all live without it. With that kind of leverage, it’s pretty hard for “good government” Democrats to get anything done – especially in a minority that is only becoming worse.
The bill leaves homeless advocates out in the cold.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness said it will take $2.4 billion to fund local anti-homelessness efforts through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The cromnibus provides $300 million less than that for the permanent supportive housing programs for the homeless that HUD relies upon to end chronic homelessness.
WTH is cromnibus anyway? (ty NBCNews)
Kevin Drum’s thoughts: Here’s the Ugly Side of Bipartisanship
If you take a look at the bill, it does indeed have a bunch of objectionable features. People like me, with nothing really at stake, can bitch and moan about them endlessly. But you know what? For all the interminable whining we do about the death of bipartisanship in Washington, this is what bipartisanship looks like. It always has. It’s messy, it’s ugly, and it’s petty. Little favors get inserted into bills to win votes. Other favors get inserted as payback for the initial favors. Special interests get stroked. Party whips get a workout.
So should working politicians avert their gaze from the muck and vote to keep the government functioning? Of course they should. Government shutdowns are immensely costly in their own right, after all.
Imagine if Rush Limbaugh or the Heritage Foundation thought this way as well. Imagine if they were at work to make government work. Imagine how much leverage they would lose for their arguments. That’s part of their rhetorical trick that gives them that added leverage at times like this. It can also backfire though, so when people catch on, like California and Humboldt has, you are kinda lost.