The failed Democratic leadership of Congress caved once again Wednesday to the most unpopular President in American history, giving George W. Bush another victory while abandoning the voters who put them into power in the 2006 mid-term elections.
House Democratic leaders dropped their demands for $22 billion in domestic spending and agreed to Bush’s spending limit on a half-trillion dollar bill. While the House version does not contain funding for Bush’s failed war in Iraq, the Senate is expected to add the money and send it back to the House, where it will be accepted as part of a deal between Democrats and Bush.
The deal represents nothing less than another victory by Bush over the lackluster Democratic leadership of Congress. After promising massive change and an end of the war in Iraq during the 2006 mid-term elections, the Democratic leadership of Congress has failed to deliver on their pledges to voters and have caved to Bush on all major issues.
Wednesday’s deal adds to a long list of capitulations. Republicans and Democrats also revolted when “earmarks” (the legislative term for pork barrel) were stripped from the bill even though they promised in 2006 to put an end to the practice which costs taxpayers billions of dollars.
Writes Jonathan Weisman in The Washington Post:
A proposal to strip the bill of spending provisions for lawmakers’ home districts was shelved after a bipartisan revolt, but Democrats say the number and size of those earmarks will be scaled back.
When defense spending is added to the total, discretionary spending for fiscal 2008 would reach a tentative total of $936.5 billion, $3.7 billion more than the president’s request, said House Appropriations Committee staff members. All of the additional money would be spent on veterans affairs.
The agreement signaled that congressional Democrats are ready to give in to many of the White House’s demands as they try to finish the session before they break for Christmas — a political victory for the president, who has refused to compromise on the spending measures.
The House last night also approved a new version of legislation that would stave off the spread of the alternative minimum tax, a parallel tax system originally targeted at the very rich, to millions of middle-class families. The House version would not add to the federal budget deficit.
The progress yesterday on Capitol Hill did not mean that lawmakers will be rushing to the exits in the next few days. The AMT bill, which was approved 226 to 193, pays for the $50 billion tax fix largely by preventing hedge fund managers from deferring compensation by shifting their pay to offshore tax shelters. The White House issued a fresh veto threat, reiterating Bush’s opposition to any tax increases to pay for an AMT fix.
The threat virtually ensured that the Senate will not muster the 60 votes needed to break a threatened Republican filibuster. It moved Congress further toward shattering a Democratic pledge not to pass tax cuts that are not fully offset by tax increases or spending reductions.