Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Couple of Missteps for the New Republican House

While I am absolutely thrilled that John Boenher is now the Speaker of the House, taking power away from the Wicked Witch of San Francisco, the incoming Republican majority has made what I think are a couple of mistakes just as it gets started.

First - on the first day of the 112th Congress, changes to the House operating rules were introduced. Every change of majority control introduces rules changes - that is not new. However, something caught my eye.

House members from Guam, DC, Northern Marianas, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, and American Samoa have been allowed to cast symbolic votes on the floor - as long as their votes didn't decide an issue, their votes would be counted. They were given this priviledge in 1992, I believe, under a House Rules change imposed by the Democrat majority.

Five of these six members are Democrat. The remaining one is an independent who blocks with Democrats.

The end result of this is that vote totals on bills will not reflect an inflated number of Democrat votes - on votes that wouldn't be decided on those six votes.

While I understand the purity of this, and the political gain, it doesn't make sense to me to do this. These six votes won't hurt Republican efforts inthe House, so why give Democrats (and the people in these terriroties) a reason to berate Republicans for 'disenfranchising' them? I don't understand what this will accomplish, other than pissing people off.

Second - we're hearing right and left about Republican efforts to cut the budget, trim the deficit, and cut the national debt. Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) proposed legislation that would restrict the use of funds saved from budget cuts for use only to reduce the deficit. This would ensure that budget cuts would remain exactly that - cuts - and not just shifted to being spent elsewhere. His proposal was shot down by Democrats and Republicans. The reason is simple - politicians of both parties want to keep spending, and want to be able to claim making cuts when all they are doing is playing a shell game with our money. This problem isn't limited to one party - it is inherent in the established Washington political machine.

I hope these two goofs are just that - initial goofs - and not an indication of 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss'.

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