Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

This lame duck may fly

Most observers predict a desultory period between now and the new year, with the current Republican Congress content to wrap up the mess in a plastic bag and leave it on the doorstep of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

Specifically, the talk is that unfinished spending bills will be dumped into a continuing resolution and later an omnibus bill, so as to give plenty of time for unemployed Congressmen to construct their resumes and start knocking on the doors of K street.

Does the GOP want to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of the electorate? Isn't their only future to take the Dems up on the offers of bipartisanship?

What with new rules for lobbying on the horizon and the loss of both houses, K street already has a big surplus of right wing ideologues. The only Republicans with influence will be those who can work with Democrats.

Voters and Democrats have already gotten more action on Iraq, with the firing of Rumsfeld and the nomination of a pragmatist, in the few days since the election than they did in the entire year previously. They may get similar movement elsewhere in the agenda.

A few predictions:
  • Republicans will write the appropriations bills and pass them in good order. The leadership will want to leave a sense of competence in the minds of the electorate. They will come back after Thanksgiving to get it done if they have to.
  • Middle class tax cuts will be passed. The so-called "extenders," the deductions for state sales taxes and for student tuitions, along with the R&D tax break will be passed. The GOP used their power to extend the tax breaks for the rich last spring -- into 2010. Will they really leave town without extending the rational tax breaks for the middle class into next year? [You'll remember Senator Cantwell took a courageous stand against cutting the minimum wage for tipped workers and announced it on the Official Blog. That bill also had the extenders in it as well as the evisceration of the estate tax. The voters and Senate Democrats look pretty good today for having stood up then.]
  • Confirmation of Gates. The Pentagon won't have to wait until January to expel Rumsfeld. Gates will be confirmed in December, though Senators will make sure they're not buying the Baker commission's prescription in the blind. (Gates was a member of the Iraq Study Group headed by James Baker and Lee Hamilton. That group has a report coming in January. A better one is already on the table from George McGovern and William Polk. See our treatment.)
  • Rejection of Bolton. John Bolton will have to kick his dog and terrorize his office staff somewhere other than the UN. Confirming him may be Dubya's priority, but I see a swirling pattern and a flushing sound in Bolton's future.
That will be a bunch. Particularly the budget work. Only two of, I think, thirteen spending bills have been passed. A $5.2 billion transfer from domestic programs to the military is not accounted for, which means an untoward changing of the rules or even deeper cuts in domestic programs.

The voters and the Democrats can be very satisfied if it gets done. If it doesn't, the Republicans need to explain why -- on camera.

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