November 10, 2009

November 10, 2009 | Commentary on

Doubling Down on Defeat

The 2009 elections in Virginia, New Jersey and New York sent a strong message to elected officials. Yet many politicians may be willing to risk their future by continuing to promote unpopular ideas. Independent voters abandoned the President's party for conservative change.

Liberals seem to be doubling down on unpopular policies, while hoping they get lucky and the economy turns around. Time will tell if Members of Congress are listening to the voters or gambling away their jobs.

Obamacare's First Big Test

The voters told Washington, D.C. to change its ways. Yet Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) still pushed for her version of an unpopular Obamacare bill. Pelosi's proposal would destroy up to 5.5 million jobs, according to the House Republican Conference chaired by Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN). Pence argues that this bill would raise taxes by $729.5 billion, expand spending by $1.06 trillion, may drive 114 million people off private health insurance and create or expand 43 entitlement programs.

If you like big government, you'd love Pelosi's version of Obamacare. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid continues to hide his health care bill. We won't know for a few weeks what Reid's version of Obamacare would do to raise taxes, destroy jobs and expand government. Reid announced last week that the Senate isn't prepared to debate health care reform. In fact, that debate may not happen until next year.

Judge David Hamilton is No Alexander Hamilton

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has circulated a letter to all Senators expressing deep concerns about the nomination of David Hamilton, a U.S. District Judge in Indiana, to be promoted to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Sessions wrote, "in more than a few instances, Judge Hamilton has used his position as a district court judge to drive a political agenda." Senators will be voting on this nomination as early as next week and this will be another test of whether the elites in the Senate care about the will of the voters, as expressed last week.

Hamilton says that evolving case law and empathy are good ways to read new rights into the Constitution for political purposes. Hamilton wrote the Senate Judiciary Committee that, "federal judges take an oath to administer justice without respect to persons, and to do equal right to the poor and to the rich. Empathy -- to be distinguished from sympathy -- is important in fulfilling that oath." If you agree with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (she says the Second Amendment to the Constitution is not a fundamental right), then you'll love Hamilton. As a former vice president for litigation and a board member of the Indiana branch of the ACLU, he's demonstrated empathy to liberal causes and distain for conservatism.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Copenhagen)

Seems like some Senators are more worried about approval ratings among Europeans than among Americans. Last week, Sen. Boxer (D-CA) ignored long standing precedent in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and reported out the Kerry-Boxer cap-and-tax bill out of committee without the participation of Republicans. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) accused Boxer of "decid(ing) to ignore the entreaties of all 6 ranking members from Senate committees with some share of jurisdiction over climate change legislation, as well as leading moderates in the Senate." Boxer is attempting to deliver a victory for President Obama to a global warming conference of world leaders in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Capitalism Under Attack

According to Politico, the financial reform legislation being pushed by liberals in the House may include a provision to give the federal government the power to break up or shrink banks and other financial firms that are deemed by bureaucrats to be "to big to fail." The legislation would give bureaucrats the power to declare that a bank in good financial standing is a future systemic risk. The House is also working on several other financial regulatory bills, including one that would establish a consumer financial protection agency, and will combine them all together into one huge package at a later date.

Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) unveils his version a new regulatory scheme for financial companies next week and is working on securing Senate floor time for after Thanksgiving. Dodd's bill may merge several of the existing regulators into one agency, and is expected to fold the Fed's existing bank regulatory powers into the new bureaucracy.

The voters were on the record last week saying no to big government. Yet elites in Washington, D.C. are still acting as if only government can solve the ills of America. They just don't get it.

Brian Darling is director of U.S. Senate Relations at The Heritage Foundation.

About the Author

Brian Darling Senior Fellow for Government Studies
Government Studies

First Appeared in Human Events