Viewers of C-SPAN 2 were treated to a rare moment of Washington, D.C., candor Tuesday.
Unaware that he was sitting in front of a live microphone in the Senate chamber, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado expressed frustration to a fellow backbench Democrat that “the whole conversation is rigged. The fact that we don’t get to a discussion before the break about what we’re going to do in the lame duck, it’s just rigged.”
The takeaway from this revealing incident is that even Senate Democrats returned to Washington this week with little or no clue what their leaders were cooking up for the interval before the new Congress is sworn in next month.
Unfortunately, we now know much more about the plans of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to grab at third-rail issues and make a last push for failed progressive ideas. Senate Democrats have moved to ram through a new version of the DREAM Act, which offers a conditional amnesty to some illegal immigrants, and a terrible bill that forces local governments to let their firefighters unionize.
Meanwhile, House Democrats passed a party-line bill that keeps the government running only until Dec. 18 — a hint that they might attempt a last-minute spending spree on their way out the door.
The election results should have convinced Democrats that they no longer have the public’s trust. After losing their large House majority and six Senate seats, they should not be pushing the same agenda that led to them being thrown out on their ears. This Congress should simply finish essential business and leave town.
First, fund the government at its current level until early next year. Second, prevent a 2011 tax increase so businesses can prepare for proper withholding plans from employees. And if Congress wants to keep the temporary 99-week unemployment benefits in place, then extend it long enough for the new Congress to make an informed decision about the program’s future.
Sitting members of Congress were indeed elected to serve until their terms expire in January. But the operative word is “serve.” Instead of searching for new, last-minute methods for steering state and federal funds to favored constituencies, Democrats in Congress should heed commentator P.J. O’Rourke’s observation that the November election results delivered a restraining order from voters on the Congress that approved Obamacare, a failed economic stimulus package and a $13.5 trillion national debt.