Friday :: Mar 11, 2005

Why Yesterday's Bankruptcy Vote Sell-out Matters

by Steve

I will keep writing on yesterday’s bankruptcy bill fiasco over the coming days, but I want to make a point here in response to those of you that say we needed to let this “small” battle go so that we could focus on other larger battles ahead on Social Security, judges, and the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.

There is a large difference between:

-Letting the 2006 Democrats vote with the credit card companies and American Bankers Association on this issue for their own political survival and having the rest of the caucus stick together so that the issue can be used next year as part of an pro-consumer and pro-reform plank for the midterms, and

-Seeing your Minority Leader blow that all to hell by actually voting with the GOP himself, thereby derailing any chance that Reid can use this issue next year and call himself ever again pro-consumer.

I mean, it's not like the ABA and the MBNA's won't pocket the Democratic votes yesterday and refrain from bankrolling GOP candidates against these Democrats next year and dumping money into the RSCC. Reid will get nothing for this vote but snickers from the industry and bankrolled GOP candidates anyway. Hell, even the NYT says that the GOP was surprised at how many Democrats sold out yesterday, and is portraying a divided Democratic caucus. Is that in Reid's grand plan, or did I miss something? Maybe Kerry was right to challenge Reid two weeks ago for not digging in enough.

Four years after these Bush guys have been in power, the Beltway Democrats still don't get it. It seems like the Beltway Democrats feel that they have to pick and choose their battles and let some go in order to focus on the bigger issues like Social Security, judges, and ANWR. Yet according to the polls, the public is already with us on those issues and yet the Reids of the world act like they have no advantages here. This is not a game where we need to conserve ourselves and let the "small" battles go; this White House is in battle and campaign mode all the time on all issues, and it was in their design to hit Reid and Pelosi with a large battle like Social Security and get them to focus squarely on that, hopefully to the exclusion of all else in this exact "small" battle strategy. And while we focus on Social Security, they had planned all along to push through under the radar screen as much as possible, including the bankruptcy bill, the tort reform fiasco, and the tax and budget bills, all of which will harm consumers and the needy in this country while they keep us focused on Social Security.

We have to be ready to battle them on all issues, all the time, as hard as that may be for the minority party. Reid needed to delegate senators as point people on all these issues to be lieutenants marshaling support and speaking for the opposition while he focused on keeping the caucus together and telling the Joe Bidens of the world that he had better slither into the wallpaper if he wanted to be an MNBA whore on this one. Instead, he is trying to do it all himself and run some kind of "focus on the big ones" strategy that will actually undercut any credible argument to voters next year that Democrats represent an alternative. I mean, how can you run a midterm election campaign as reformers with an alternative agenda when your caucus and the Minority Leader split and voted against consumers?

Sure, Reid and others are to be applauded for doing the near-impossible on Social Security to the degree that the White House cannot even get enough votes to bring their non-plan to a vote in the Senate. And I’m sure that Reid and the others feel that the first priority is to stop them on the big battle first, lose the smalls ones for now, and then roll back these outcomes on tort reform and the bankruptcy bill in 2007 hopefully with more Democrats in the Senate after the midterms.

But what if voters don’t think there is a difference between a Democratic challenger and the GOP Senate incumbent next year, especially after learning that the Senate Democratic leader voted with banks and MBNA against consumers in this vote?

Let Joe Biden go f**k himself, but Harry Reid didn’t have to follow him.

Hell, even Joe Lieberman didn’t vote for the bill.

Steve :: 8:29 AM :: Comments (21) :: Digg It!