The 111th Congress, the much despised 111th Congress, has packed its bags, licked its wounds, and scattered to the four winds as a Nor’easter of epic proportions struck the Atlantic seaboard.
D.C, of course, shut down. It can easily handle global warming, but a global freeze is beyond its infrastructure.
This Congress was no ordinary Congress. Its opinion polls are at a record low, approximating the 2 feet of snow in Brooklyn. This Congress may be departing D.C. in a sullen mood, but it should rejoice during this Holiday Season. The members, those with and without their heads after the November elections, should hold their heads high for all their accomplishments. This Congress fulfilled its expectations.
The 111th Congress is the third most transformative Congress since the Civil War and Reconstruction. FDR had his New Deal, and LBJ the Great Society. We’re not sure what President Obama and the 111th Congress was since it is the Congress of No Name. No name, no formal program, just transforming America into a European socialist society. Neither President Obama nor the Congressional leaders were willing to risk telling the American people their real plans. But we soon learned.
President Obama and the leftist leaders of Congress saw the 2008 elections as either a mandate from the voters or a once in a generation opportunity to transform the country. Either way, Congress had to act fast before the public caught on. For the first time since LBJ, Republicans lacked the votes in either the House or Senate to stop the Democratic agenda. Prosecutorial misconduct in Alaska and Senator Specter’s switch in Pennsylvania gave the Democrats a filibuster proof 60 votes in the Senate.
The opportunity was not to be missed for the young, ambitious President.
Under the guise of helping the battered economy, Congress enacted a non-stimulus, pork-ridden “Stimulus Act.” The 1419 page Bill, which had few “Ready to Shovel” projects in it, was primarily aimed at subsidizing state and local governments, their unions, and other political constituencies. Medicaid was also heavily subsidized by Congress as the costs were threatening to bankrupt state governments.
The Stimulus Bill was followed by the budget, containing another surplus of pork.
The rest of the first year was spent enacting the Obama Health Care Law, whatever that is. Speaker Pelosi said we would have to enact the Bill to know what’s in it. How right she was. The surprises contained in this 1990 page bill are coming out daily. Bart Stupak caved on abortion and wisely decided not to run for reelection.
The act also nationalized federal student loans.
Congress forgot or ignored President Clinton’s mantra, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
While the Democrats were transforming America, the economy was deteriorating. Congress further forgot that voters vote their pocketbooks.
Then came financial regulation, termed financial reform. The 2300 page bill was drafted by, and guided through Congress, by Congressman Barney Frank and Senator Chris Dodd. The irony is that Senator Dodd campaigned as a populist, but in the Senate served as a shill for financial institutions. He was also compromised by Countrywide mortgages. Congressman Frank had been a shill for Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac.
Congress may have failed to revive the economy, but being the party of trial lawyers, these thousand page statutes will serve as lawyers’ full employment acts for decades.
Unemployment finally stabilized at slightly under 10%.
The 111th was not a rubber stamp for the President – not at all. Congress balked at civilian trials, at least anywhere in the 50 states, for the prisoners at GITMO.
In its final weeks, it engaged in a blizzard of legislation. It Extended the Bush tax cuts, but added a veritable Christmas Tree of ornaments for special interests to it.
“Don’t ask, Don’t tell” was repealed, obtaining even Republican votes. The Senate approved the new Start Treaty, once again without knowing what it contained. For the Democrats, it was another step to unilateral disarmament.
One significant, but little noticed act, enacted by Congress in its final days will require ads on TV to be no louder than the shows.
The 111th Congress, the highly partisan 111th Congress, created more debt than all its predecessors combined. That may be its real legacy.
The 111th Congress accomplished much, ignorant of mush of what it enacted, but did not improve the Congress.
The 111th Congress was rejected by the voters. History will tell if it deserves its ignominy.