Democrats control Washington? Why doesn’t it feel like it?

I have lost count with the number of times I have heard or been asked why the Democrats can get nothing of substance done when they control both Houses in Congress and the White House.  The answer is easier that one might imagine.

With a 257 to 178 advantage in the House and a 58 to 40 lead in the Senate (with 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats) and control of the White House, one would figure that it would be a free-for-all with the liberal agenda.  At the very least, we’d be seeing better legislation pass.

One suggestion is that since 1994 the Democrats have been a beaten party that even in victory they continue to act as the loser.  There is some truth to that.  When you become used to losing, you tend to find defeat in the hands of victory – just ask the National League with regards to the All-Star game.

Back in 1994, around the time of the defeat of ‘Hillary Care’, the Republicans made huge gains in the House taking control of Congress.  This after they controlled the White House for 12 of the previous 14 years.  For the next 6 years of the Clinton administration, the Republicans blocked all reasonable legislation instead focusing on Whitewater and Monica.  Distraction politics. 

For the first 6 years of the Bush administration, the Republicans went totally unchecked threatening Democrats with the nuclear option (thus killing any attempts for Senate Democrats to filibuster) and with cries of being weak and un-American.

Meanwhile, the Republicans were able to pass any bill they wanted without real discussion or media coverage.  The Bankruptcy Bill was written by the credit card companies.  The Pharmaceutical companies had their hands in construction of legislation. 

In 2006, during the last 2 years of the Bush administration, Democrats regained control of the House and Senate but you’d be hard pressed to tell.  The Senate Democrats found themselves running against a record number of filibusters by the Republicans.  It was impossible to see any positive change as the constant roadblock was set.  road block

Now with across the board victory, one would figure that the progressive agenda would be passing without debate, repairs to the Bush-era legislation would also be passing and corruption charges would have occurred against Rove, Cheney and their band of not-so-merry men.

But we’ve had very little.

The Republican’s voice is in the very willing media, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and others.  Still, I would have suspected that more would be getting done.

The only constant in the mix are the lobbyists.  They continue to pump money into the process, contributing to members of both parties.

Rumors (they seem to be more than just rumors now) indicate that the Obama administration months ago made a deal with Big Pharma that the public option would not really be considered an option.  Now we’re hearing that single-payer appears to be headed off the table. 

The Obama presidential campaign was such that he only took money from people, refusing contributions from corporations and refusing to allow current or former lobbyists to work on his campaign.  

For that, we were told that a President Obama would not beholden to any company – just to the American people.

Don’t we look foolish now?

I have been a huge supporter of real election reform but nothing will ever change unless we set rules for the interactions between our representatives and the lobbyists on K-Street.   kstreet

We have to reinstate the regulations on the media corporations as well.  Right now they are permitted to freely tout their political positions from their bully pulpits without any balance or counterpoint.  This of course is the subject for another post. 

But as long as members of Congress receive campaign cash from the lobbyists, our Congressional representatives will continue to get the lobbyists back instead of ours.  And that is regardless of the party in power.

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