Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is privately chuckling in exultation as he solemnly (reading glasses on nose) congratulates his squad and the 17 players from the other side for saving his and his team’s butt once again.
Sen. Schumer, D-New York, along with California’s former U.S. senator and now vice president — cackling Kamala Harris — is stirring her boiling pot of Crow Stew as the almost, very nearly, light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel ascendant Republican Party – headed up by Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell and U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield in the House — takes aim at their feet and fires away.
There really is no explanation for any of this, as 17 — count ‘em, 17 — Republican senators have gone along with yet another spending boondoggle. And now they have to block the new cynically named “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.”
Before getting into the details of this spending bill, let’s revisit a little history.
“Republican Tide Brings New Look to Legislatures” screamed The New York Times headline after the 1994 election that brought Newt Gingrich and his Contract with America cohort to an astounding mid-term election victory. Not only did Republicans take over the House of Representatives for the first time since 1948, but legislatures in 16 or so different states changed hands from Democratic-controlled to Republican-controlled. And, one of those states was — hold on to your unsupervised no-valid-signature-required drop-box-harvested mail-In ballot — California.
Yes, the California Assembly flipped six seats, giving Republicans a 41-39 majority, their first since 1970. But as luck would have it, there was at least one Republican ready and able to switch sides in order to allow California Democratic Assemblyman Willie Brown to keep his job. Republican Paul Horcher abandoned his base, registered as “independent” and voted for Mr. Brown to remain as Speaker.
Assemblyman Brown challenged the right of another Republican — Richard Mountjoy — to serve in the Assembly after winning a Senate seat,and won. Seven weeks later, Mr. Brown was re-elected as speaker, and the Democrats haven’t lost control since. Today, they hold a super majority in both California legislative chambers.
Many posit that it was California’s Republican Gov. Pete Wilson’s backing of Proposition 187, which sought to deny services to those in the state illegally, that caused the demise of the state’s Republican Party. But Prop. 187 passed by a 60-40 majority.
I do believe the party’s collapse had more to do with the successful machinations of the Democrats under wily Willie Brown.
I should note that at the time 1994-1996, Kamala Harris was Willie Brown’s live-in lovemate. She’s seen this play before, up close.
Interestingly, The New York Times coverage concluded with this comment: “Political analysts are already fiercely debating whether the (1994) election was what one of them called ‘the big one,’ a seismic, long-term national shift to the Republican Party, or whether it was simply the angry act of a volatile electorate that could just as easily lurch back to the Democrats two years hence.”
And so, based upon that illustrative history, the national Republican Party may decide it would rather follow in California’s footsteps than put their big-boy shoes on and step up to take control of Congress.
“It’s the Democratic Party that loves government,” I can hear them saying, “so let’s leave it up to our friends across the aisle. In the meantime, we can continue surreptitiously signing on to spending plans that are likely to enrich our friends and neighbors — many of whom are Democrats, after all — and we can stay in Washington as the Party-in-Waiting. The pay is good, the events are great (and way more fun when they’re run by Democrats), and the pressure is off.”
Before contemplating what exactly the Republicans who voted for this are smoking, let’s take a look at this new spending bill.
Up from his basement lair, President Joe Biden vowed that the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 will “make prescription drugs cheaper, lower health insurance costs for 13 million Americans by an average of $800 a year, improve energy security and tackle the climate crisis, create thousands of new jobs and help lower energy costs in the future.”
Oh, and that’s not all. “This bill will reduce the deficit,” he promises in a statement released the day before the vote, “beyond the record setting $1.7 trillion in deficit reduction we have already achieved this year, which will help fight inflation as well.”
Wow; this bill is so comprehensive that, though the president didn’t mention it, I have it on good authority that the Inflation and Deficit Reduction Act of 2022 will cure bad breath, combat toenail fungus and reduce hair loss too.
Since the so-called “$1.7 trillion in deficit reduction we have already achieved this year” is illusory, so is the rest of this Bull Manure Act of 2022. “We will pay for all of this by requiring big corporations to pay their fair share of taxes, with no tax increases at all for families making under $400,000 a year,” the White House memo goes on.
My guess is that this will achieve lift-off on the pages of The New York Times and the Washington Post. Likely, NBC, ABC, CBS, NPR, CNN, MSNBC and the rest of the note takers in what used to be actual media will praise the president’s perspicacity and the clarity of his vision. “While it isn’t everything we wanted, because all the Democrats voted for it, we’ve taken an important step forward in our fight against climate change…”
Blah, blah, blah.
Over the coming weeks, President Biden’s poll numbers will rise, and those for a Republican victory in November will fall.
Maybe we’ll pull out of the coming nosedive and maybe we won’t, but all this activity – with more to come!! – is enough to turn hopeful Republican voters into “I’m never going to vote for anything ever again” agnostics.
And that’s too bad; we can’t give up. There is nowhere to go, and, as President Ronald Reagan once said, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”
James Buckley is a longtime Montecito resident. He welcomes questions or comments at email@example.com. Readers are invited to visit jimb.substack.com, where Jim’s Journals are on file. He also invites people to subscribe to Jim’s Journal.