Samuel Adams, one of the leaders of the Boston Tea Party in 1773, wrote, ???It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brush fires in people???s minds.???
Enter Sen.-elect Scott Brown, the Republican who won a Massachusetts special election by setting a brush fire that should send a clear message to Washington: Voters are mad as hell and they aren???t going to take it anymore. People are obviously angry with the big-government policies of the Obama Administration and Congress. My home state made me proud last Tuesday.
The big question is whether the elites in D.C. will listen to the message from one of the bluest states in the country.
In yet another big-government response to our nation???s problems, President Obama is working on a proposal to reduce the trading activities and perhaps the size of the big banks that have dominated the financial system in recent years. This comes on the heels of his plan to place a $120 billion tax on those same banks.
It also comes as Obama officials are demanding that banks increase their lending and agree to massive new regulations that would allow bureaucrats to micro-manage financial institutions.
There are reasons to be angry with bankers who took our tax dollars as bailouts and then turned around and paid huge bonuses. But Obama???s attempts to control every aspect of banking is no solution. The real reason for the new micro-management proposals and rhetoric is to distract voters from the fact that most of Obama???s policies have failed to help the economy or create new jobs.
Sen. Jim DeMint vs. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
An interesting and little-noticed parliamentary skirmish took place in the Senate during the waning hours of the Obamacare debate before Christmas. Since coming to power, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) has abused the Senate???s rules by blocking amendments to bills. This allows him to severely restrict the right of the minority to engage in unlimited debate. It also protects his caucus from having to vote on amendments that may be politically problematic for liberals.
To perform his abuse, Reid puts a bill on the floor, then engages in ???filling the tree.??? He offers multiple empty amendments to a bill, which blocks other senators from offering meaningful amendments. Reid then immediately files a motion to cut off debate. In essence, Reid filibusters his own amendments, which don???t have any substance anyway, as a trick to squash the rights of the minority to offer amendments and to participate in the legislative process.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.) managed to restore the Senate tradition of being a body with unlimited debate and unlimited amendment. He found a provision in the Senate???s rules that allows him to file amendments. Unfortunately, his approach requires a two-thirds vote to pass the amendment, but DeMint doesn???t care that his amendment may not pass, because he is merely forcing a vote on an issue. DeMint is fighting for the right to offer amendments and put senators on record where they stand on specific issues.
DeMint forced a vote to change the Senate rules to prohibit the promising of a vote in exchange for earmarks or any similar consideration. This rule would have prevented the Cornhusker Kickback, the provision in Obamacare that provided an expensive permanent exemption from the state share of Medicaid expansion for the state of Nebraska. DeMint has won this battle for transparency and free debate over Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The majority will no doubt try to abolish debate and dissent. But for now DeMint and other conservatives have preserved the right to free speech in the Senate.
At a time when the voters are enraged and concerned about the growing national debt, Senate Democrats are pushing the Senate to pass a $1.9 trillion increase in the debt limit, which would allow the U.S. to owe up to $14.3 trillion. At a time when Tea Party participants are getting ready for elections this fall, it would seem that Congress would take a step back and look at ways to cut spending, not expand it. Sam Adams would be proud of a revolution against big government that continues today.