When Compromise Leads to Capitulation
By Isaac MacMillen
“Choose ye this day whom you shall serve.”—Joshua 24:15.
Democrats now have a functional super-majority. For the first time since the Senate that passed LBJ's Great Society, Democrats can muster the 60 votes necessary to do anything they want in the Senate—and to the country.
While in terms of party-held seats the Democrats still have only a 57-41 advantage (plus 1 Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, and 1 seat in Minnesota still up for grabs), three weak-kneed Republicans have given them what appears to be apparent victory by siding with them on the pork-laden 'stimulus' package. And, after them, “le Deluge.”
While their rationale in opposing (before supporting) the bill had to do with the initial amount of pork (“too much,” they mumbled) and the fact that some minescule amount of pork was subsequently cut, a quick look at their voting record reveals that cutting pork may not have been their primary concern.
Arlen Specter (R-PA), has been in the Senate since the 1980 election leaving indelible tracks in the trough. There, he has striven mightily to carve out for himself the reputation of a “moderate Republican.” His record is mixed in many areas, and while he claims to supports some conservative principles, most others he has no qualms about opposing. And that opposition invariably comes at the worst of times.
Senator Specter voted against keeping the 60-vote rule for raising taxes, and supported the minimum wage increase. When it comes to pork, his record is anything but stellar. In 2006, after adding $7 billion onto an already-bloated spending bill, Mr. Specter proudly stated that, fiscally, “the Republican party is now principally moderate, if not liberal.”
And back in 2004, when fighting for his political life against conservative challenger Rep. Pat Toomey, Senator Specter promoted himself to the state by way of all the pork he had been able to secure. He stated that he had “brought a lot of money into Pennsylvania” and complained that his opponent accused him of “being a liberal, as though that's some form of a dirty word.”
One need not dig back very far to see the true colors of Pennsylvania's longest-serving senator. And given his history, it is disingenuous at best for him to suddenly declare he opposed the bloated 'stimulus' bill based on pork—especially when, after dining with the President, he supported it with much of the pork intact.
Perhaps a desire to curry favor with the ruling Democrats compels him. Or, perhaps, the fact that his principal primary challenger has opted not to run against him in 2010 gives him the freedom to compromise and collaborate to the detriment of the few Republicans left in the Senate. After Mr. Toomey dropped out of primary contention, for example, Mr. Specter curiously switched his opposition of Attorney General candidate Eric Holder. Whatever the case may be, however, he is unfortunately not alone.
Maine's duplicitous duo, Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, share a similar track record.
Ms. Snowe, the senior senator from the state, has, at best, a mixed record on fiscal issues. She voted against then-President Bush's 2003 tax cuts and opposed his attempt in 2005 to cut capital gains and dividend taxes, calling it “tax cuts for the rich.” Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) ranked her the #1 Republican Porker in the Senate for 2007.
More recently, she was one of the 10 Republicans who capitulated and voted for embattled nominee for, and confessed tax cheat, Timothy Geithner for Treasury Secretary. She also joined only four other Republicans in voting to release the other half of the $700 billion bailout passed last fall.
Her Maine fellow senator, while fairing slightly better in some regards—she supported the 2003 tax cuts—still has serious issues, especially when it comes to government regulation and intervention in the economy. Senator Collins joined her colleague in supporting the Warner-Lieberman “cap-and-trade” measure. Back in 2007, Senator Collins introduced legislation her Senate website touts as putting the “first-ever CO2 controls on power plants.” Both of these measures would sacrifice industry efficiency for environmental activism.
Clearly, Senators Specter, Snowe, and Collins are not friends of American taxpayers whose onerous burden they have gleefully increased. And their support of the bloated stimulus package does not lend credence to their claims of fiscal concern.
Really, this is an outgrowth of Lee Atwater's “Big Tent” philosophy of coalition-building, and now it is costing the American people over $1 trillion.
By supporting the ‘stimulus' rather than standing strong, these three senators undermine the causes—and colleagues—they purport. The Obama administration would have had to come back with a far smaller package. Instead of a $100 billion in cosmetic cuts, perhaps $500 billion could have been saved? Now, we'll never know, thanks to the treacherous trio of Republican senators.
Even their claim of a “fiscally responsible compromise” is transparently false. The House version, with all its pork, ran up a grand total of $820 billion. In the Senate, even after the $100 billion + was shaved off, was left with a tab of $827 billion. Can a bill which is larger than its original truly be called fiscally responsible? Of such “compromises” are abject surrenders made.
The “Traitorous Triad” as one wag has called them, need to must wake up to the damage they have been causing. Their support of liberal measures in the past has cost the country dearly. And their continued support—giving the Democrats their functional super-majority—will be to the detriment of all those who value fiscal responsibility and the two-party system.
At present, their defection has laid down the red carpet for the Democrats to push some of the centerpieces of their agenda. As such, cap-and-trade, union card check, socialized health care, and increasing the reach and power of liberal special interests are now all on the table.
Indeed, liberals are salivating over the damage they can do to conservatives with the defection of the Triad. Already, the liberal group Americans United for Change has produced advertisements praising the three senators, and President Obama invited them so he could thank them for their—as one official described it—“patriotism” in supporting the 'stimulus' bill.
That may prove little comfort as angry constituents whose money is being squandered contact the senators. Presently, support for the 'stimulus' bill as-is comes at just 1 in 5 Americans, with over 60 percent of voters wanting “more tax cuts and less government spending,” according to the latest Rasmussen polling data.
While there is always hope—redemption is always possible: “the quality of mercy not be strained”—it must be followed by an uncompromising defense of truth and justice. Unfortunately, it appears that Senators Specter, Snowe, and Collins have chosen the path of compromise and collaboration. They have chosen this day whom they will serve. And it's not their own party—or, in fact, the American people.
Isaac MacMillen is a contributing editor of ALG News Bureau.