Tuesday, November 22, 2005

WaPo Dionne: Bring Democracy to Congress

Bring Democracy to Congress: "The past few days have confirmed that our national government is dysfunctional.

It wasn't just the nasty Friday evening 'debate' over Iraq policy in the House, set up by Republican leaders to score political points after Rep. John Murtha's call for immediate withdrawal received so much attention. And it wasn't just Rep. Jean Schmidt, an Ohio Republican, deciding to send a constituent's 'message' to Murtha -- a Marine combat veteran with 37 years of active and reserve service -- to the effect that 'cowards cut and run, Marines never do.'

What happened hours earlier, at 1:45 a.m., symbolized all that is wrong with Washington. After immense pressure from Republican leaders, the House passed $50 billion in budget cuts -- including reductions in Medicaid, food stamps and child support enforcement -- on a 217 to 215 vote. Republicans who pride themselves on being moderate had their arms twisted into backing the bill, partly on the basis of promises that many of the cuts it contained wouldn't survive in House-Senate negotiations.

Not a single Democrat was willing to vote for the budget, because there are far better ways to cut the deficit. Rep. Jim Ramstad, a Minnesota Republican who dissented from his party, made the case against the budget as well as anyone. 'We should cut the pork,' he told the Washington Times, 'not the poor.'"


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