Clicking on banner ads keeps JWR alive
Jewish World Review Oct. 11, 2002 / 5 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763

John H. Fund

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

The kill-everything senate | In 1948, nearly everyone thought Harry Truman was going to lose the presidency. The New York Times called Thomas Dewey's election "a foregone conclusion." Truman didn't listen. He embarked on a whistle-stop tour of the country, deploring the Republican "do-nothing Congress." His persistence paid off. Voters not only gave him a second term but handed Democrats control of Congress. President Bush would be wise to take a page out of Truman's political playbook and start campaigning against Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's "kill-everything Senate." Mr. Daschle and a few of his chairmen are practicing monkey-wrench legislating to satisfy the liberal groups they need to gin up the fall election in hopes of keeping (or increasing) their one-vote Senate majority. Policy is always tied up in politics, but the extremes of Daschle obstructionism are hurting the country.

Take the Department of Homeland Security that President Bush has proposed to consolidate the government's antiterrorism activities. Senate Democrats have held up approval because public-sector employee unions don't like giving the president flexibility to manage the new department's work force. Last week, Sen. John Breaux, a Louisiana Democrat, was in a meeting that was on the verge of reaching a compromise with Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, when the phone rang. It was Mr. Daschle's office on the line saying the proposed deal was unacceptable.

Similar interference prevented Democratic senators Chuck Schumer and Chris Dodd from going forward with a compromise they'd worked out to provide businesses with antiterrorism insurance in a post-Sept. 11 climate that has made it almost impossible for that market to function. Trial lawyers oppose the bill.

The Daschle-run Senate is primarily responsible for this being the first year since 1974 that Congress will not have passed a budget. It's likely that only one of the 13 annual appropriation bills, the one for defense, will have passed before Congress adjourns next week to go home and campaign. That will force Congress to pass continuing resolutions to fund government departments at last year's levels--a tactic that budget expert Stan Collender says will misallocate billions of dollars and play havoc with agency planning.

Similar obstructionism is at work across the entire Senate agenda. There is no sign that reauthorization of the 1996 welfare-reform bill, generally considered an outstanding success, will pass. The energy bill has been so weighted down with subsidies as to be useless to energy production. Senate Democrats are blocking a House bill that would allow firms that manage 401(k) and other pension funds to offer participants advice on how to invest.

But it's on judges that the monkey-wrench Senate attitude is most obvious. Nearly 40 of President Bush's nominees to the bench haven't gotten a hearing, including several who were nominated 17 months ago. Democrats would rather have the vacancies, even though the Judicial Conference of the United States has declared many of them "judicial emergencies." This week, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Pat Leahy went back on his commitment to the retiring Sen. Strom Thurmond that he would bring up the nomination of a former Thurmond aide nominated to a federal circuit court.

Last month, the Leahy committee voted not to send to the Senate floor the nomination of Priscilla Owen to a federal appeals court precisely because she would have won confirmation by the full Senate. Ms. Owen, a Texas Supreme Court justice, was "borked" by feminist and trial lawyer groups. "We will confirm qualified judges. Don't send us unqualified judges," Mr. Daschle had warned. Never mind that Justice Owen had a "highly qualified" rating by the distinctly nonconservative American Bar Association.

But the actual facts count for little in a Senate run according to Mr. Daschle. Qualified judges aren't, because he says so. Antiterrorism insurance and a Department of Homeland Security languish. This is political calculation and selfishness run amok.

If President Bush wants to be able to carry out any sort of agenda in the last two years of his term, he will have to overcome Mr. Daschle's obstructionism. If he says nothing about it and the Democrats keep their majority next month, the blame will fall to the president for the Senate's legislative failures. As Harry Truman well understood the buck stops in the Oval Office.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on JWR contributor John H. Fund's column by clicking here.


10/30/02: Schroeder did what it took to win--but at what cost to Germany?
08/22/02: Buh-Bye Bob, So Long Cynthia : No amount of shouting could've saved Barr or McKinney
07/29/02: GOP: Get Over Panic --- Dems are vulnerable on corporate scandals, too
07/17/02: Not Just an Average Joe: A black GOPer may give Rep. Eliot Engel a run for his money
07/15/02: The McCain Mutiny-II
07/01/02: Opening the Schoolhouse Door: The politicians can't stop school choice now
06/20/02: The Body' Bows Out --- American politics will be duller without Jesse Ventura
06/06/02: It's time for President Bush to stand up to California's senators
05/16/02: A Court Intrigue: Procedural funny business in a racial-preference case
05/14/02: Thin moral ice: New revelations from a skater's Stasi files recall an oppressive era
05/09/02: Newark, Zimbabwe!?
05/02/02: Will Terror Leave Us No Choice? Teachers unions try to use Sept. 11 as an excuse for bad schools
04/23/02: The New Nixon? Al Gore plots his comeback
04/16/02: 'I, Uh, I Have No Comment': A union plays dirty in opposing an antitax initiative
03/31/02: Don't Just Do Something, Stand There!: Filibusters can help the Senate GOP get things done
03/14/02: Red-Light District: It's time to draw the line on gerrymandering
02/21/02: Slippery Slope: Can Dick Riordan beat California's Democratic governor?
02/14/02: Reform School: The Shays-Meehan incumbency protection act
02/07/02: Arizona Highway Robbery: Politicians make a grab for campaign cash
01/31/02: Disfranchise Lassie: Even dogs can register to vote. We need election reform with teeth
01/17/02: Dr. King's Greedy Relations: Cashing in on a national hero's legacy
01/10/02: Oil of Vitriol
01/04/02: The little engine that couldn't--and the senators who don't want it to
12/24/01: E-mail and low-cost computers could be conduits for a learning revolution
12/13/01: How Gore could have really won
12/07/01: Let our students keep their cell phones
12/04/01: Why the White House gave the RNC chairman the boot
11/12/01: A Winsome Politician: She won an election in a majority-black district--and she's a Republican
11/01/01: Bush Avoids Politics at His Peril
10/30/01: Cocked Pit: Armed pilots would mean polite skies
10/24/01: Chicken Pox: Hardly anyone has anthrax, but almost everyone has anthrax anxiety
10/11/01: Will Rush Hear Again? New technology may make it possible
10/04/01: Three Kinds of pols
08/24/01: Lauch Out: Who'll replace Jesse Helms?
08/08/01: Tome Alone: Clinton's book will probably end up on the remainder table
08/03/01: Of grubbing and grabbing: Corporation$ and local government$ perfect "public use"
07/31/01: Affairs of State: The Condit case isn't just about adultery. It's about public trust and national security
07/14/01: The First Amendment survives, and everyone has someone to blame for the failure of campaign reform
07/12/01: He's Still Bread: Despite what you've heard, Gary Condit isn't toast --- yet
07/12/01: Passing Lane: Left-wing attacks help boost John Stossel's and Brit Hume's audiences
06/25/01: Man vs. Machine: New Jersey's GOP establishment is doing everything it can to stop Bret Schundler
06/15/01: A Schundler Surprise? Don't count out "the Jack Kemp of New Jersey"
06/06/01: Memo to conservatives: Ignore McCain and maybe he'll go away
05/29/01: Integrity in Politics? Hardly. Jim Jeffords is no Wayne Morse
05/22/01: Davis' answer to California's energy crisis? Hire a couple of Clinton-Gore hatchet men
05/07/01: Prematurely declaring a winner wasn't the networks' worst sin in Florida
04/23/01: How to fix the electoral process --- REALLY!
04/11/01: A conservative hero may mount a California comeback
03/30/01: Can the GOP capture the nation's most closely balanced district?
03/09/01: Terminated
03/06/01: Leave well enough alone
02/22/01: Forgetting our heroes
02/15/01: In 1978 Clinton got a close look at the dangers of selling forgiveness
02/12/01: Clinton owes the country an explanation --- and an appology
02/06/01: How Ronald Reagan changed America
01/16/01: Why block Ashcroft? To demoralize the GOP's most loyal voters
01/15/01: Remembering John Schmitz, a cheerful extremist
12/29/00: Why are all Dems libs pickin' on me?
Dubya's 48% mandate is different than Ford's
12/13/00: Gore would have lost any recount that passed constitutional muster
11/13/00: The People Have Spoken: Will Gore listen?
10/25/00: She's really a Dodger
09/28/00: Locking up domestic oil?
09/25/00: Hillary gives new meaning to a "woman with a past"
09/21/00: Ignore the Polls. The Campaign Isn't Over Yet

©2001, John H. Fund