THE DEMOCRATS' UNCIVIL WAR
Democrats who represent the District of Columbia are steaming mad at President Obama for taking an all or nothing approach to the partial government shut down. They are loudly protesting, including at a rally on the evening of October 10 where they severely criticized the President and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
A federal district, the District of Columbia can only spend its own tax revenues if Congress passes a bill authorizing the expenditure. During the partial government shut down, the House passed such a bill and sent it to the Senate, anticipating that the Senate too would pass the bill. After all, the money is the tax revenue raised from DC residents for their own local government. It has nothing to do with federal tax revenues and federal spending.
The failure of Congress to pass that bill forces the D.C. government to rely on a contingency reserve fund, but that fund will be exhausted sometime the week of October 14. Thinking the bill not a point for serious contention (certainly not among Democrats), leading District of Columbia Democrats like DC Mayor Vincent Gray and non-voting Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton urged Senate Majority Leader Reid to bring the DC bill up for a vote. To their shock, dismay, and bewilderment, Reid refused. Gray and Norton then turned to the President, thinking he would rescue them from Reid, but the President would not. At first, the President refused to respond to requests for a Senate vote, but then when pressed finally announced that he supported Reid’s decision not to bring the bill up for a vote.
The nonsensical stand of the President and the House Majority Leader against DC spending its own tax dollars has led to an uncivil war among Democrats. It all came to a head this past Wednesday, October 9.
Early on Wednesday, at a White House meeting with Democrats (where Obama ordinarily lectures to the party faithful without any interruption), DC Delegate Norton personally challenged the President, interrupting him several times, and demanding that he explain why he stood in the way of DC using its own tax dollars to fund its own essential functions.
She told Obama, “the city is running out of its own contingency funds.” The President refused to budge. He continues to back Reid’s incoherent decision not to let the bill to allow DC to spend its own tax dollars to come up for a vote, causing DC to be put on the verge of its own financial crisis next week.
Angered by the President’s refusal to endorse DC’s effort to get the bill voted on in the Senate, DC Mayor Gray later in the day appeared at a Senate Democrat press conference on Capitol Hill. Unannounced and uninvited, Gray interrupted Reid, demanding to know why Reid would not let the House bill to permit DC’s access to its own tax dollars go to a vote in the Senate.
Reid scolded Gray, trying to get him to drop his protest, saying, “Don’t screw it up.” Asked what Reid meant by that, Gray said, “I have no idea.” Gray then went on to argue with Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California, who stood by Reid. Boxer appeared flustered, perhaps not recognizing that Gray was the Mayor of the District of Columbia, saying to him: “Why don’t you support opening up the government?” Incredulous, Gray said, “We’re not a department of the government” and “we’re just asking to spend our own money.”
Politics does make strange bedfellows, but perhaps none stranger than seeing House Republicans, including Republican Representative Darrell Issa, arm in arm with DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and DC Mayor Vince Gray against President Obama, Senator Reid, and other leading Democrats in Congress. Republican Congressman Darrell Issa joined Norton and Gray at the Wednesday rally against the White House and Senate Majority Leader Reid.
If you thought Washington was dysfunctional before the partial government shut down, what do you think of it now? Sanity remains outside the beltway in that portion of America that still creates wealth, earns a living, and pays taxes. On Friday, October 11, a subset of those Americans, truck drivers, drove a caravan of eighteen wheelers around the Washington beltway, flying flags and slowing down traffic. They meant to protest the President and Congress’s destruction of American constitutional government. They harbor sentiments felt by a growing part of the American electorate.
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Sooner or later a majority of Americans will join in the sentiments expressed by those truck drivers. They will come to the realization that big government is not only too expensive to endure but it is also too freedom limiting to sustain. A market not tied down by over regulation and taxation, freed from federal planners whose decisions are dictated by political self-interest and utopian vision, would resurrect American greatness. The path the regulatory state has charted for America is a path of destruction, one where the rule of law, especially constitutional law, is rendered so malleable as to be fickle, even absurd and whimsical, and one which brings down everything that is above, reduces it to enslavement, and creates a common mediocrity.
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