Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hello Lucy

I hadn't gotten around to giving my two thumbs up to the Democrat's "Lucy and the football" trick the other day, apparently concocted by my home state's Rep. (and Minority Whip) Steny Hoyer (D-MD). For those of you who don't know, Republicans brought to the floor a far-right budget proposed by the Republican Study Conference -- one that goes way beyond the radical cuts proposed by the Paul Ryan budget. The plan was for it to fail thanks to a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans.

But the Democratic leadership had a light bulb: "Why do your dirty work for you?" If the majority of the GOP majority wants the RSC budget, the country needs to know that. So late in the vote, the vast majority of the Democratic caucus switched its vote to "present". Suddenly, the RSC bill had a majority among those voting (i.e., among Republicans), and the House leadership was faced with the terrifying possibility that the damn thing might actually pass. Chaos ensued.

Eventually, the GOP whipped enough of its members into switching sides so the bill failed. But it was a great piece of political theater that showed both the willingness of many Republicans to embrace radical, retrograde budget ideas, as well as many of their members' utter hollowness when it comes to putting their money where their mouths are.

Incidentally, with respect to the Representatives who switched under pressure, I say "no mercy". Slap an ad up saying they "were willing to vote for [insert insanely scary cuts]", and hammer them on it all the way to election day.


Anonymous said...

I agree that it was a pretty awesome parliamentary maneuver but I can't help wondering whether this is the kind of behavior we need in Congress. Regardless of my approval of the target, it seems to add to the rancor and partisanship of the body as a whole.

- Jackhammer

PG said...

As political maneuvers go, I think voting "present" is not very bad behavior.

My favorite political story of the day is that Missouri Republicans are repudiating the expressly-stated -- via referendum -- will of the state's voters in order to (almost literally) kick puppies.