Your move, ideologues

So what excuse will the tea party’s congressional mouthpieces invent for rejecting the “Gang of 6” compromise, supported by everyone from Saxby Chambliss to President Obama? You know they will oppose it, even though the closure of loopholes (tax increases, in ideologue parlance) is accompanied by tax reform.

Hope they prove me wrong.

Boehner (wisely) calls Obama’s bluff

The Ohio Republican, along with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), will introduce legislation on Wednesday to reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program, the speaker’s office said Monday, making a school voucher initiative that Democrats, including Obama, have strongly opposed as a bargaining chip for beginning discussions on the administration’s desired education proposals. …

Teachers unions have fought against the voucher program and Obama’s budget pulled funding for new scholarships after 2010.

Supporters of the program, which currently funds scholarships for roughly 1,000 D.C. students, argue that it gives poor students access to better education.

De-funding the program would return many of  those students to D.C.’s public schools, decreasing their odds at success. The stats prove it, but such change doesn’t jibe with a progressive orthodoxy that demands blind support for teacher’s unions — even when they’re a large part of the problem.

barack w. obama

When it comes to eliminating earmarks, Obama’s no better than his predecessor, the self-proclaimed “reformer with results.”

“We need earmark reform and when I’m president, I will go line by line to make sure we’re not spending money unwisely,” McCain said, reading back Obama’s words at a debate last fall. “That’s the quote, the promise of the president of the United States made to the American people in a debate with me in Oxford, Miss. So what is brought to the floor today — 9,000 earmarks.…So much for change.”

(And so much for the Politico headline: Angry McCain Slams Obama. We should all be pissed that our new president broke a pledge.)

Obama had a real opportunity to challenge his party’s wasteful, parochial spending. That’s the kind of change I want. Unfortunately, Obama proved either uninterested or incapable.

Not that the Republicans can gloat. Neither party can. They are to reform what the octo-mom is to planned parenting.

what if michael bloomberg had run?

The New York mayor seriously considered a third-party candidacy last winter. Too bad he didn’t pursue it.

Considering the current financial crisis, who do you think voters would turn to? The candidate with little experience, the one tethered to George Herbert Walker Hoover or the pragmatic innovator and self-made billionaire?

Beyond his business acumen, Michael Bloomberg could’ve made the most credible case for reform. The drama over the bailout plan demonstrated once again that neither party can be trusted to lead.

Resentment towards the two parties has been building for years, and it’s never been greater. I voted for Ross Perot in my first presidential election, fully aware that he was crazy. Hell, that was his campaign’s theme song and he still got 19 percent of the vote.

If only we had another option in this election.

My initial optimism about Obama has waned; he seems to be little more than a boilerpate Democrat, a John Kerry with superior oratory skills and a better team of strategists. As for McCain, two words: Sarah Palin.

And I had such high hopes:

How refreshing would it be to choose between two truly decent candidates, neither of whom is grounded in the politics of petty partisanship? I typically resist such unguarded optimism, but, for one night at least, the future looks bright. I’ll savor it while I can.

Score one for pessimism.

As Fareed Zakaria recently opined, “It’s a time to figure out what works, not what ideological mantras to keep repeating. It’s the age of Michael Bloomberg.”

Too bad his influence will be limited to New York. As for the rest of the country, rest assured that whoever wins, the failed politics of the past will prevail.

(Sam Nunn was mentioned as a potential running mate for Bloomberg. Imagine if he had shared the stage with Palin and Biden.

Enough said.)

on reform, obama says one thing, does another

And no amount of *caveats will change the facts:

Obama in Nov. 2007: He answered “Yes” to Common Cause when asked “If you are nominated for President in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?”

Obama today: “We’ve made the decision not to participate in the public financing system for the general election,” Obama says in the video, blaming it on the need to combat Republicans, saying “we face opponents who’ve become masters at gaming this broken system. John McCain’s campaign and the Republican National Committee are fueled by contributions from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs. And we’ve already seen that he’s not going to stop the smears and attacks from his allies running so-called 527 groups, who will spend millions and millions of dollars in unlimited donations.”

Of course the Democrats would never accept donations from special interests — enough with the self-righteous bullshit!

Obama is going to raise significantly more money than McCain, and it’s understandable why he doesn’t want to give up that advantage. But that doesn’t make it right, and I’m left to wonder about his committment to reform.

Jake Tapper sums it up well: Declaring independence from a “broken system” by breaking a promise. Obama hopes you’ll care more about the former than the latter.

*Okay, so I’ll allow one caveat, as Common Cause is more more forgiving than I was about Obama’s reversal on public financing.

Cardwell for Senate

I know little about WSB investigative reporter Dale Cardwell, who just announced he’s running for Saxby Chambliss’ Senate seat. But already I’m inclined to vote for him:

Cardwell said he will run against what he calls the daily, debilitating corruption of Washington, and promises to eschew money from special interest groups and political action committees.

“I have a passion as a believer and an observer, and I just can’t stand it any more,” Cardwell said.

That’s refreshing. No mention of having a conversation with the voters of Georgia — or a pledge to restore family values. Cardwell seems pissed off, and we need all the Howard Beale types in Congress we can get

Business as usual

From lobbying reforms to anti-corruption proposals to curbing earmarks, Democratic lawmakers who railed against Republican corruption a year ago have flinched from imposing the harshest standards on themselves. Consequently, this Democratic Congress may end up no better prepared to police itself than the Republicans were when the Jack Abramoff bribery scandal broke and the spate of criminal convictions it spawned surfaced as a primary reason for voters’ angst last fall.

Will the Democrats be held accountable? Don’t count on it. As far as reform goes, both the media and the public are asleep at the wheel.

We’re waiting, Madame Speaker

Remember when House Democrats touted tough new legislation against lobbyists? Now that they’re in power, those promises of reform seem to be losing steam:

The growing resistance to several proposed reforms now threatens passage of a bill that once seemed on track to fulfill Democrats’ campaign promise of cleaner fundraising and lobbying practices.

Can’t say I’m surprised that Democrats want to keep the big campaign donations and lavish junkets and parties that lobbyists provide. No institution is more absolutely corrupted by absolute power than Congress.

As today’s NYT opines:

Make no mistake. If the leadership fails to bring the lobbying industry to heel, voters will know that Congress remains as much for sale under the Democrats as it was under the Republicans.

We’d be naive to think otherwise. Congress will always be for sale, no matter which party is in power.