Thursday, December 29, 2005

Congressional Report Card

The first session of the 109th Congress has, finally, come to an end. And it's time once again for a report card to gauge the progress (or lack thereof) made in recent months by our elected representatives. Of course, by way of disclaimer, this report card (like the last one) is completely selective, capricious and otherwise totally my own. Feel free to offer revisions, additions, etc. in the comments - all I ask if that you keep them clean.

First, the subjects:

Budget: (B). Some decent cost-saving measures, but more unfair cuts in programs that benefit millions of Americans (student loans, health care, heating assistance). This grade could have been much improved by getting rid of more fat in the form of pork-barrel projects.

ANWR: (A). When all was said and done, the refuge survived another day. Those who want to open ANWR will try again next year, so this fight's not over by any means ... but we won another round.

Torture Ban: (A). This was always a winning issue, and after the Administration's inevitable capitulation its passage was guaranteed.

PATRIOT Act: (B+). The five-week extension forced by Sensenbrenner provides a little bit of time for the Senate and House to continue their negotiations. I continue to support the Senate's shorter-term sunsetting provisions and added protections for civil liberties, so I hope the bipartisan group there keeps up the good work.

Stem Cell Research Funding: (Incomplete). This one's still on the agenda, folks. And the delaying tactics continue. Back in October, Senator Specter accepted a deal with Senate leadership to take up in January the House-passed bill to allow federal funding on stem cells taken from embryos which would be discarded anyway. Now that the Alito hearings are scheduled to occur during the month, though, stem cells seem likely to fall off the radar again.

Tax Cuts: (Incomplete). After the Senate Finance Committee balked, further tax cuts this year got shoved off the table. Unless any proposed cuts are to be offset by cuts in pork so they don't add to the deficit, I will continue to oppose them in most cases. Stay tuned for more on this in the coming months.

Alito Confirmation
: (Incomplete). No idea where this one's going. Confirmation seems relatively likely, but the hearings are definitely going to matter much more this time than they did with Roberts.

Now the individual/group marks:

Ted Stevens: (F). Does not play well with others. After those ANWR shenanigans, an F is being generous. And that was on top of his previous escapades this year (oil execs, bridge to nowhere).

John McCain: (A-). Excellent work on the torture ban and other areas this year, including the Abramoff sleaze hearings.

Feingold, Sununu, Craig, Hagel, Murkoswki, Durbin, Salazar: (A). The bipartisan group responsible for pushing (hard) for additional civil liberties protections and shorter sunsetting timetables. Well done.

House leadership: (Incomplete). Tom DeLay's still lurking. It's time for a change. The caucus ought to get that done when they return in January.

There must be more of these that I wanted to add but they're slipping my mind. If I think of any more, I'll update.

8 Comments:

At 12:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, sorry, this is a bit off-topic, but I know this is a Republican site, and I wanted to let you guys know about this 2008 poll that's being taken on RedState. They're down to the final three candidates, and it's Rudy, Allen, and Newt Gingrich facing off. If any of you guys are interested in checking it out, I'll paste the URL on here. You can vote by scrolling down and finding the poll on the left side of the screen. I don't think you have to be a member to vote or anything. Anyway, here's the URL:

http://www.redstate.org/story/2005/12/29/04349/114

 
At 4:08 PM, Anonymous jim said...

How about the complete end arounds of Senate rules? Adding and removing things in secret, closed door meetings? For that I give the Republican leadership and F. You either set the bar high and follow the rules, or you have no room to complain when it happens to you years later. I believe Senator Frist added a portion to either the defense or budget that absolved pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits for bad drugs. It had been defeated/removed a few times before, but he slipped it in. Total coward. As you said, these are totally MY opinions...feel free to disagree.

 
At 4:12 PM, Blogger JBD said...

Anon, thanks for the tip. I've voted, and urge others to as well.

Jim, an F for the end-running sounds fair (and generous) to me.

 
At 6:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont know how the congress can get a B for the budget. The drastic changes in student loans and vastly harmful tax cuts and program cuts across the board lead to a larger gap between the rich and the poor. There are few other things that are more dangerous to our democratic republic. I would give it a F or D-.
Steve Abott

 
At 2:30 PM, Anonymous Paul Wartenberg said...

The previous poster covered my complaint to the letter: Congress deserves an F for having all those unjustified pork projects survive in the face of all those cuts to genuine programs. That Sen. Stevens is still getting his bridge money (in fact the money set aside for that bridge could go anywhere in Alaska now, thanks a lot) is the mold-covered cherry on top of the sour persimmons pie.

 
At 10:49 PM, Blogger Clint Carrens said...

I agree with you on just about everything, except I too think Congress deserves an F on the budget.

I have more specific comments on a lot of the items you covered in a post from earlier this week on my blog.

 
At 8:55 AM, Blogger Carol Gee said...

JBD, taking the time and effort to send out a report card is a valuable act of citizenship. Wouldn't it be interesting is everyone had to do the same thing in order to keep their voter registration current? Of course, then the turnout would plummet, so that's a bad idea. But it is a good kind of accountablility. How else could such a thing be implemented?

 
At 4:28 PM, Blogger RealRepublican;circa1861 said...

Interesting poll, anon.

I don't believe either of those 3 men will be a factor. Rudy is yesterdays news. Allen's dead dad is more popular than he is. Newt is WAY too controversial.

The way I see it actually, is that McCain is already Bush's heir apparent and the WH is working behind the scenes setting that up...ie; Mark McKinnon, GWB's PR guy from TX, signed on with McCain months ago. He can't do that without the go-ahead from the WH/Rove. I think the WH feels JM is the only chance the GOP has of holding the WH.

 

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