Feb 262009
Authors: Chelsea Cane Indiana University

(U-WIRE) – With the recent passing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, much of America has been buzzing about the provisions within the bill as well as the mode by which it was constructed and passed.

The Obama campaign ran on a promise of fiscal responsibility, transparency and bipartisanship. While I commend President Barack Obama for the introduction of http://recovery.gov to help Americans track the payments and projects supported by the new stimulus package, our new leadership has forgotten its promise of bipartisanship and its desire to bring the nation together.

Long before President Obama entered the White House, our Democrat-led Congress had been pushing Republicans out of the legislative process. (Before I continue, I do acknowledge the past shortcomings of Republicans in this same arena. However, my argument against Democrats currently centers on their outspoken aspirations to achieve “real” bipartisanship and to bring Americans together to achieve responsible government.)

On June 10 of last year, the Congressional Research Service released a report indicating that 855 of the 911 bills passed by the Senate of the 110th Congress were streamlined by Democratic Party leadership with a procedural tactic known as Unanimous Consent. Unanimous Consent requires neither a debate nor even a vote.

Is this the vision our founding fathers had for our nation’s legislative body? I maintain that it is not. But it also begs the question: Where is the line between obstruction and delay and constructive debate?

The House version of the stimulus package was passed without a single Republican vote, the final vote tallying 246-183. The Senate narrowly avoided a filibuster by passing the bill 61-37, just one vote more than what was needed to close debate.

Only three Senate Republicans voted for the bill. More Democrats in the House voted against the bill than Republicans in the Senate voted for it.

In July, the House of Representatives, led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, dismissed all debate on the issue of offshore drilling. This callous disregard for the process is another prime example of Democrats’ unwillingness to engage in open debate about which they so often pontificate.

President Obama has worked hard to push this stimulus bill through Congress. His vigorous rhetoric communicates intolerance to ideas presented by the right. It has been made clear that President Obama cares little for the bipartisanship that he previously endorsed. He frequently stated that Democrats need not yield to changes in the bill, save for minor items.

This harsh rhetoric is not the push Congress needs — in fact, it is exactly the opposite. For the president of the United States to advocate the swift passage of the most expensive bill in U.S. history, discouraging its debate is disrespectful to the office of the presidency and to the people of the United States.

Despite the president’s forceful endorsement of the bill, the most shocking statements of this whole debacle came from Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. He said the following on the Senate floor: “And let me say this, to all of the ‘chattering’ class, that so much focuses on those little, tiny, yes, porky amendments — the American people really don’t care.”

Is that so, Sen. Schumer? We don’t care?

People of all walks of life certainly care about where and how their money is being spent. These people deserve the respect of the representatives they worked to elect. These people deserve honest debate, something that many hoped the Obama administration would inspire. However, we are now seeing a markedly more partisan-sounding President Obama and a more polarized Congress than I have seen in several years — and we’re only 38 days into the new administration.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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