As a lifelong progressive it becomes most difficult to write any report that has as its theme Bush wins big - even at a cost. Faced with a Democratic Congress, Bush should not be winning at all, at a cost or otherwise. The people elected a Congress dominated by Democrats who were given simple marching orders; 1] STOP the war in Iraq and elsewhere , 2] spend no more money on sending more troops to the middle East; both of these orders could easily be carried out because, after all, Congress does control the money, and, if all else fails, impeachment is a real possibility.
What then has gone wrong? 1st , the leadership in the new Congress failed to read the will of the voters correctly and established their own priorities; which were to 1] expand their control of the Congress to last at least 12 years, 2] expand their numbers to have veto proof numbers in both houses and to always be able to shut down filibusters. The voters either didn’t understand these things or were more interested in achieving short term goals first and then work on the long term goals. In other words there was an enormous gap between the short term goals of the voters and the long term goals of the party leaders with no effort being made to reconcile the two. And then, of coarse having the DNC on the one hand and the DLC on the other hand did nothing at all to help. And until the DLC is either eliminated or exposed for what it is; Republicans pretending to be Democrats, little will be changed.
As Congress stumbled toward Christmas, President Bush scored victory after victory over his Democratic adversaries. He:
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Beat back domestic spending increases.
Stopped an expansion of children’s health coverage.
Defeated tax increases.
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Pushed Democrats toward shattering their pledge not to add to the federal deficit with new tax cuts or rises in mandatory spending.
But the cost of those wins could be high, for the federal debt and the president’s priorities.
Bush’s resolute opposition to tax increases could raise the federal debt this fiscal year by nearly $240 billion. And as Democrats look for ways to meet his demands, they are cutting or eliminating programs he has championed.
Even some influential Republicans in Congress bristle at the president’s inflexibility. Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee recently said “I see the president trying to catch- up in two years for not vetoing anything in the first six years.”
In the meantime, Congress moved towards finalizing the revised spending plan for the federal government. The Senate approved an omnibus appropriations bill that combines the eleven remaining spending bills into one legislative vehicle in hopes to wrap up the federal budget process before Congress adjourns on December 21. The bill passed by a vote of 76-17. In addition, the SCHIP program was extended for 15 months with extra payments to states that prevent shortfalls.
The Labor, Health, and Human Services and Education bill which funds the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration [SAMHSA] programs as well as other related alcohol and drug and mental health education and research programs, was revised to meet spending targets by instating an across- the-board cut of 1.74 percent to all programs in its jurisdiction. Unfortunately, the few increases that were allocated to key alcohol and drug and mental health programs by Congress largely disappeared as a result of the cut. And although the Commerce, Justice and Science bill that funds the Department of Justice received cuts, key programs such as the drug courts program and the Mentally Ill and Crime Reduction Act, were able to retain some small increases over FY 06 funding levels.
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President Bush has indicated that if the Senate adds funding for the war in Iraq he is likely to sign the bill into law.
Jonathan Weisman, Bush wins big in Congress---but at a cost, Washington Post, December 15, 2007
Public Policy Update, National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, December 19, 2007