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Will All Democrats Follow the Pied Pipers? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Dittmer   
Friday, 24 November 2006
AFF Sentinel Vol.3 #34
Last issue we considered how the change in party majority might directly affect national agricultural politics. Now let's mull the overall political dynamics.

Many believe the Republicans got kicked out for not being Republicans - for not being the party of smaller government, less spending, fewer regulations and lower taxes. George Will said the Republicans were "punished not for pursuing but for forgetting conservatism," (emphasis mine) (C.S. Gazette, 11/10/06).


Former Congressman Dick Armey analyzed it this way:

"Over time, too many Republicans in the governing majority forgot or abandoned their national vision, letting parochial interests dominate the decision-making process," he said. ("End of the Revolution," Wall Street Journal, 11/15/06.) Armey said the 1994 Republican takeover he and Newt Gingrich engineered reestablished a national vision for the party instead of the parochial, "What can I send back home" approach. The "positive Reagan vision of limited government and individual responsibility" provided discipline. The overriding question was, "How do we reform government and return money and power back to the American people?"

Reagan meant the people keeping their hard- earned money in the first place. Too many Republicans interpreted it as earmarking money back to their constituents to buy political power. The corruption was a revealing sideshow illustrative of what happens, as Armey put it, with a shift in "choice criteria from policy to political power."

Looking just at the list of leaders and probable chairmen under the Democrats speaks for a liberal, big government approach: Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, Carl Levin, Nancy Pelosi, Charlie Rangel, Barney Frank, John Dingell and John Conyers. But economist and political observer Larry Kudlow, ("Hugh Hewitt" radio show, 11/10/06), said the new House overall will be more conservative than the outgoing one. The Democrats consciously recruited more conservative "Blue Dog" candidates to run against Republicans. Many races were close, leaving new politicians with less leeway for extreme positions, if they wish re-election.

Will dissects it differently but ends up similarly. The Democrats have added "moderates from Republican-leaning districts" and will be more conservative than the last Democratic wing ("Retreat from Exuberance," Newsweek, 11/20/06). The Republicans will be more conservative, having lost numerous moderates.

Will also discussed the genesis of earmarking. After the '98 elections, House Republicans ended up with a master of the legislative process, rather than an idea man -- Speaker Hastert. In the vacuum of ideas, the theory of earmarks - targeted spending back to members' districts - blossomed as a method of securing a permanent majority. The recent election has slain that theory, Will said.

The Senate has also shifted. But its revised filibuster rules and lack of statesmen make it an anchor on public policy. The Senate ratifies trade treaties, confirms Supreme Court and federal judges, and confirms presidential appointees (Bolton).

Question: will a more conservative Democratic Congress put the brakes on its liberal leadership, or will they heed the call of Reid and Pelosi?

From the Republican side, Gingrich portrays the options as two: a movement of bipartisan cooperation between conservatives of both parties reminiscent of the Reagan years or an "establishment bipartisanship which cuts deals between the liberals and the White House," ("Which Bipartisanship Will Bush Choose?" Wall Street Journal, 11/16/06.) The difference is important for the beef industry. Gingrich feels the first coalition would work on making the capital gains tax cut permanent, cutting spending, reining in "failing bureaucracies and waste" and boosting biofuels. He doesn't say so but could some target commodity programs as one of those bureaucracies?

Gingrich counts 44 Blue Dog Democrats in the House and 54 who won by claiming they were much more conservative than Pelosi.

He sees the second option as doing little more than figuring out how to get out of Iraq. Conservative senators would filibuster and block

Will President Bush brandish a veto sword to protect the taxpayers and citizens from liberal big government Congressional assaults? Or will he wield a meek, sigh-ning pen of compromise?

Will the Democratic leadership keep everyone in line and the Republicans truly be the odd men out? George Will seems to lean toward the latter.

"At least the Republicans now know where ?the bridge to nowhere' leads: to the political wilderness."

Fall AFF 2nd Anniversary & Beyond Fund Drive.

We need your check today or your visit to our website where you can use a credit card to make your contribution during our fund drive. If you prefer, send your check, made out to Agribusiness Freedom Foundation, to your state affiliate office or us at the address at the bottom of this newsletter. We are heading into a Farm Bill debate which could shape the future of cattle and beef marketing, industry structure and world trade for decades. Please join with us and help make sure our independent voice is there.

To everyone who contributes the suggested minimum amount, as a "thank you" gift, AFF will send a copy of Riding for the Brand, a terrific novel that paints the picture of what the beef industry could be like in 25 years - or sooner. Author Jim Whitt's short, entertaining book shows how real cowboys could get there.

The recent elections have made the road ahead more challenging than ever. Please help us preserve your freedom to innovate and adapt to the 21st century consumer. Thank you.

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Last Updated ( Friday, 15 December 2006 )
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