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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is working to make sure his self interest number increases.

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Not Low Enough

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is working to make sure his self interest number increases.

On July 8, 2008, Rasmussen reported that the approval rating for Congress was at an all time low – 9 percent.  For Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that is apparently not low enough.  That same report indicated that 72 percent of the American people believe that members of Congress are more concerned about furthering their own political careers than they are serving the interest of the people who put them in office.  Harry Reid is working to make sure his self interest number increases.  Let me explain.

Americans — by a 3-1 margin — believe that runaway fuel prices are the most immediate problem this Congress should resolve.  I believe the American people – if asked – would tell Congress not to take a vacation in August, while gas prices continue to soar.   Instead of addressing the rising gas prices last week the Senate was busy creating an additional $50 billion deficit to treat aids victims in Africa. 

This is a delicate subject, but if you look at the underlying bill, it does very little to treat aids victims in Africa. Instead, close to $2 billion will be used on Indian reservations in the U.S.  Moreover, the bill invites AIDS victims to come to the United States for treatment, meaning that U.S. taxpayers receive a double whammy: Africa is not sending the money back with the people who come to the U.S. for treatment.

Sixty-five percent or more of Americans support offshore drilling.  President Bush, belatedly so has done his part by lifting the Executive Order on offshore drilling, so now it is up to the Congress.  Instead of moving to legislation that would allow offshore drilling, Reid has moved to legislation regarding speculators which would produce precisely zero new oil. 

The Senate has spent the last few weeks bailing out the housing industry.  This includes individuals who purchased more house than they could afford and banks that used suspect if not unscrupulous lending practices.  If the American people only knew the underlying causes of the housing bailout and how much of a burden it will be on them and generations to come, they would be outraged.

This is how Congress reached the all time low 9 percent rating.  Harry Reid wants to know how low we can go.  Does he plan to allow legislation to pass on offshore drilling in the coming weeks?  Absolutely not.  Instead, he plans to renew the Congressional ban, which expires on August 30. 

In fact, Reid has indicated that he will extend the Congressional ban on offshore drilling in an omnibus spending bill. Offshore drilling is usually an Interior Department-related measure, but this Congress – in its wonderful efficiency – won’t be passing the Interior bill this year.  You might ask yourself how in the world is Reid doing this, but wait; he’s planning to do even more.

Instead of offshore drilling, Reid plans to do a different kind of drilling.  He wants to drill a deeper hole in the pockets of the taxpayers.  Reid plans to do this by moving to legislation that has commonly been referred to as the “Coburn Omnibus.”  The Coburn Omnibus is a compilation of spending bills that have been held by Senator Coburn or another Senator because they would expand the size of government and are not on the list of priorities for the American people. 

One of the “urgent” measures Reid wants to raise over Coburn’s objections include H.R. 3320 – Support for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.  There’s no doubt this title of this bill and its mere $5 million price tag are impressive.  The most disturbing part is that we’re not even talking about adding to the legacy of the Smithsonian, but this money is going to Warsaw Poland.  These are apparent priorities of Harry Reid and Orrin Hatch, but not too many other Americans will sign up to advance this priority over the price they are paying at the pump.

Senator Reid excluded a number of other bills he had threatened to include in this package.  He stopped short, because a number of people decided to expose him.  Do not let him fool you with the bills he has included.  Senator Coburn wrote Senator Reid and asked him to spend one hour of debate for each billion dollars the bill would spend. Senator Reid rejected that request.  He would rather pass these bills without debate and under a cover of darkness. 

Is one hour of debate for one billion of your taxpayer dollars too much to ask?  More importantly, is protecting monkeys from being transported from one state to another or the Federal government spending $775 million for reconstruction in foreign countries more important than the price tag you’re paying at the pump?  Senator Reid apparently thinks so, because this describes two additional bills he would like to pass without debate.

As you can see, I’m no fan of Senator Reid, but make no mistake about it, Republican Senators who have not had the courage to stand up to Reid should not receive a pass.  They’re also to blame for the 9 percent approval rating.  That rating, again, is apparently not low enough for Senator Reid.  He’s working on the second rating though — furthering his and other Senators, political careers.  He is busy buying off enough Senators on the Coburn Omnibus – looks like Hatch is already paid for — by including something for them in the legislation to get to 60 votes – that is enough members to pass a massive spending package without debate.  If he does get to 60, let’s make sure that he and every member who votes with him do not get our votes the next time they need them in November.

Written By

Mr. Smith is the Executive Director of wsmith.org. His previous experience includes serving as a litigation defense attorney at Starnes & Atchison LLP in Birmingham Alabama and as Chief Counsel to Senator Sessions on the Judiciary Committee, United States Senate.

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