The Defeat of Harry Reid


Doubtless you were looking forward to hearing the entire omnibus spending bill read in its entirety, over the course of the next 50 hours.  I know I was – every last six-million-dollar second of it.  I thought the only problem with the eight-hour Bernie Sanders filibuster was that it ended too soon.  He was just getting warmed up.

As it turns out, Harry Reid didn’t want to spend fifty hours with Jim DeMint glaring at him and tapping his foot.  Reid caved, and pulled the Democrats’ monstrous $1.27 trillion pile of figgy pudding off the Senate floor tonight.  It looks like we’re going to get some version of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s one-page continuing resolution to keep the government running until February.  In the new year, the 112th Congress will address the dereliction of duty perpetrated by their predecessors, and write a full budget for 2011.

“A number of Republican senators told me they’d like to see this pass, but they can’t support it,” croaked Reid, channeling the Red Queen of Alice in Wonderland in his hour of distress.  He couldn’t marshal the votes to pass his bill, while McConnell pulled together the votes against it.  Increasing public outrage over runaway spending put a strong wind at the Republicans’ back, but this was still a remarkable demonstration of skill and discipline by McConnell.  He’ll make a splendid Majority Leader in 2012.

There were $8 billion in earmarks stuffed into this bill.  Plenty of them came from Republicans.  In fact, Republican Thad Cochran of Mississippi had the biggest earmarked total, weighing in at $500 million.  They found the strength to disavow them, handing back the goodies they were given in exchange for their votes.  Are they sincerely changing their ways, or are they just afraid of the Tea Party?  Only time will tell – politicians are good at warmly embracing things they were forced into, and making it seem like it had been their idea all along.  At least they’re listening.

There are reasoned arguments to be made in favor of earmarks, but the arguments against them have become overpowering.  Too much ridiculous crap gets funded that way.  Earmarks lubricate the gears of the machinery that ground out horrors like ObamaCare.  It’s about time somebody threw a wrench in the works.

The death of the omnibus bill is a huge development.  It’s not supposed to work this way.  Republicans aren’t supposed to win eleventh-hour showdowns with the sand running out of the Senate hourglass, newspapers already Photoshopping them into the Grinch’s sled, and black-robed Democrats ready to bellow “SHUT IT DOWN!” at the glowing doomsday clock that puts Washington into hibernation.  Transformational Presidents with superhuman intellect and charisma aren’t supposed to watch in helpless silence while the minority mops the Senate floor with their party. 

Perhaps rattled by developments in the Senate, the House voted to approve the tax deal between President Obama and the Republicans within a few hours.  Procedural hurdles threatened to scuttle the bill on Thursday afternoon, but in the end it passed by a greater margin than the original Bush tax cuts ten years ago.

This is an astonishing defeat for the Democrats.  It’s the end of a saga that began with President Obama’s advisors running around and assuring their constituents there was no way they would fail to raise taxes on the Evil Rich, who sat on the wrong side of a line Obama had drawn in the sand.  It’s the numbing realization by Democrats that they could never win the game Bill Clinton played against Newt Gingrich during the government shutdown of the 90s.  It may come to be seen as the beginning of the end of tax-and-spend liberalism.  Taxes and spending are both down for the count tonight.

How big were the midterm elections?  This big.