The Budget Deal, or Why Elections Have Consequences

Monday, April 11, AD 2011

Unsurprisingly the last minute budget deal was the talk of much of the blogosphere over the weekend.  Some think it’s a big Republican victory.  Others are less inclined to see this as something to celebrate, to say the least.  Ed Morrissey strikes a more middle-ground approach, but says something that I think we should all keep in mind.

We’ll see who won in September, but Republicans have achieved one major accomplishment.  Not only did they force the first actual reductions in government spending in ages, but they have changed the political paradigm from whether to cut to how much and where to cut.  That’s a pretty impressive victory for a party that only controls one chamber of Congress.

To me we’re in round two of a twelve round heavyweight fight.  The real battles will be over the FY 2012 budget and the 2012 elections.  This was but a skirmish.

As for me, I agree with Gabriel Malor at Ace (linked above) that this is a good first step.  I completely understand the frustration some have expressed, especially over the inability to de-fund Murder Inc, aka Planned Parenthood.  But the fact remains that the Republicans control only one of the three democratic elements of the budget battle.*

* Slight tangential note, but I do think the talking point that Republicans only control one-half of one chamber to be a bit overdone.  First of all it’s more than half, and if we’re going to be consistent then we should say the Republicans have almost half of another chamberthe Senate.  After all, Republicans have a greater share of votes in the House than Democrats do in the Senate.  Moreover, because it lacks a filibuster rule, majority control in the House – even a small majority – is more significant than majority control in the Senate.  The minority is all but powerless in the House, less so in the Senate, especially if it has at least 41 votes.

The Republicans won big in the 2010 elections, but the Democrats won just as big as 2006 and 2008.  Therefore we are at a stalemate.  It was unreasonable to think that with control of just the House that Republicans could have completely reversed the tide of the previous two years.  At best it seemed that the Republicans could at least put a halt to further advances for Obama’s agenda, and so the relatively puny amount of real spending cuts is not an insignificant victory.

The Planned Parenthood de-funding is another matter.  Could Republican leadership have done more than merely secure an up-or-down vote on it?  Perhaps, but I just don’t see it.  It would have satisfied our sense of outrage if they had huffed and puffed and threatened to go the mattresses on it, but they would likely have been as successful in achieving their ultimate aim as we are in blowing hot air on a blog.

And again, elections have consequences.  Rick Santorum was defeated in his re-election bid in 2006, and many pro-lifers seemed to be gleeful at his defeat.  Santorum had the temerity to endorse Arlen Specter in the 2004 Republican primary in Pennsylvania, and so many suggested that one act over-rode anything else he may have done as a Senator.  He was replaced by Bob Casey, Jr., a “pro-life” Democrat who has proven that the apple falls very far from the tree.  While his dad was the defendant in the Supreme Court case Planned Parenthood v. Casey (my selection for the worst Supreme Court decision of all-time) and was a true defender of the unborn, the son has been a bit of a weasel where life issues are concerned, and has not indicated one way or the other whether he would vote to de-fund Planned Parenthood.  I predict he won’t, and yet the purists who celebrated Santorum’s defeat will bemoan the Republican Party’s unwillingness to do anything with regards to this matter.

We have a very long way to go, and it was unlikely that anything of consequence would be settled in the recent budget battle.  I just can’t wait for September.

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11 Responses to The Budget Deal, or Why Elections Have Consequences

  • Other than thinking that it’s important to emphasize that the Republicans only control one chamber of Congress, and Dems control the other, that’s more because so many people think Republicans control “all of congress.” (it’s been pushed by the folks who don’t want blame for congress’ screw ups)

    It’s sad, but it seems to be very true: pro-life democratic pols don’t exist when the going gets though. Pro-life republicans are a bit more likely, and get more likely the more conservative they are; RINOs aren’t any better than dems, and they weaken the republican side.

    I think that the mourning about not cutting PP is a little early, since the budget hasn’t been submitted yet– we’ll see.

  • As a liberal, I don’t have a big problem with any of the cuts that have been announced so far or in the earlier CRs. I think it shows that savings can be found when both sides get serious.

    Of course, the PP amendment was as phony from day one as it was unconstitutional.

  • Of course, the PP amendment was as phony from day one as it was unconstitutional.

    How on Earth was it unconstitutional?

  • How on Earth was it unconstitutional?

    Once again, the GOP has taken the pro-life rank and file for a ride. Congress can’t ban a particular organization by name from bidding on federal contracts. (Article I, sec. 9).

    The GOP knew this and wrote the amendment to be rhetorical, not legislative. They could have at least tried something that might legally stand up like the proposed Maryland Big Box Retailer Medicaid Recovery bill. — written to apply to Wal-Mart without actually naming it.

    But why take the trouble when you are not serious?

  • Okay, there was a very profound and insightful conservative commentary on the President atfter Paul Zummo’s 11:24 post. I had copied it and sent it to some friends as an example of conservative thought and opinion. Now that the Moderator have deleted it, I need to recall it from my friends and let them know thinking conservatives really don’t share these views.

    This is cutting into my time for setting up the union hall for tonight’s kielbasa and kraut social.

  • Once again, the GOP has taken the pro-life rank and file for a ride. Congress can’t ban a particular organization by name from bidding on federal contracts. (Article I, sec. 9).

    Umm, there is nothing remotely in Article 1, Section 9 that touches upon this issue. Next time you want to blow smoke, try running it by someone else.

  • The bill of attainder argument is total rubbish Kurt. The same worthless argument was raised in the cutting off of funding for Acorn and rejected by the Second Circuit last year.

    http://www.law.com/jsp/law/LawArticleFriendly.jsp?id=1202469732573

    The idea that Congress cannot decide not to fund a particular organization because such a funding decision is a bill of attainder is simply ludicrous.

  • Bill of Attainder? That’s what Kurt was getting at? It’s so ridiculous that it didn’t even occur to me that he was referring to that provision. I know leftists like to stretch the meaning of the Constitution, but man that’s not even in the ballpark.

  • Okay, there was a very profound and insightful conservative commentary on the President atfter Paul Zummo’s 11:24 post. I had copied it and sent it to some friends as an example of conservative thought and opinion. Now that the Moderator have deleted it, I need to recall it from my friends and let them know thinking conservatives really don’t share these views.

    I hesitate to dictate how someone spends their non-kielbasa and kraut time, but one solution would be not to send out “Oh my gosh, would you believe how crazy these guys are?!?!” emails… 😉

  • For those who don’t have one of those cool pocket constitutions. (Mine, sadly, cannot co-exist with a toddler who knows how to climb chairs, and move them.)

    Allow me to agree that removing funding from an organization does not equal either issuing a legal statement that they are wrong without a trial, nor to imprisonment without trial, nor is Planned Parenthood a ship or port or business of a specific state. (Just to cover all grounds.)

    Darwin- my goodness! What kind of crazy suggestion is that? Next thing you know, you’ll suggest that Wikipedia isn’t a better reference than original texts!

  • “Once again, the GOP has taken the pro-life rank and file for a ride. ”

    The old tired lie straight from the devils mouth. Meanwhile his fellow Democraps vote 0-100 against pro-life legislation..

Are All Abortions Equal?

Tuesday, June 9, AD 2009

As a matter of first principle, yes. As a matter of law, no, and such compromises are frequently necessary. Ross Douthat explains (is it just me, or does he seem somehow less influential as a New York Times columnist than he was as a blogger):

The argument for unregulated abortion rests on the idea that where there are exceptions, there cannot be a rule. Because rape and incest can lead to pregnancy, because abortion can save women’s lives, because babies can be born into suffering and certain death, there should be no restrictions on abortion whatsoever.

As a matter of moral philosophy, this makes a certain sense. Either a fetus has a claim to life or it doesn’t. The circumstances of its conception and the state of its health shouldn’t enter into the equation.

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10 Responses to Are All Abortions Equal?

  • Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that Roe and Casey, rather than unreasonable pro-lifers, are the real barriers to compromise (and reduction) of abortion in the United States.

    Yup, exactly. This piece, like most of his stuff, is very good in that it gets to insightful points quickly without unncessary fluff.

    Abortion was imposed by judicial fiat in an outrageous power grab by the courts. It belongs in the democratic process.

  • Once Roe is overturned, and I am confident it will be eventually, year by year we slowly hedge abortion in with ever-growing legislative restrictions state by state, while we continue our long term, but I think growingly successful, effort to convince the public that abortion is an evil that a civilized society must not tolerate. I am in favor of any restrictions on abortion. I look upon them as milestones to the ultimate goal of legal protection for all children in the womb.

  • Those, like Kmiec, who make the all-or-nothing argument that, since the Supreme Court isn’t likely to do the “REAL” pro-life thing and apply the 5th and 14th Amendments to the unborn, one might as well vote for the party fighting tooth and nail against any and all restrictions on abortion, sets an impossibly high standard for pro-lifers.

    It is done purposefully. By taking overturning Roe off the table as a viable (no pun intended) pro-life option, the intent is to make voting for the pro-life party seem just as “pro-choice” as voting for the pro-abortion party. Kmiec explicitly argued as much during the election, claiming that McCain’s anti-Roe views, which would return abortion to the states, were equally as “pro-choice” as Obama’s never-met-an-abortion-he-didn’t-like-and-didn’t-want-to-constitutionally-protect-from-the-democratic-process views.

  • It would be returned to the states effectively. However, if there were a federal majority of pro-life members of Congress, a bill such as The Right to Life Act or other unborn-personhood legislation could effectively outlaw abortion nationwide.

    The assumption that overturning Roe v. Wade will overturn the matter to the states, to remain at the state level isn’t a necessary assumption. If anything, supporters of legal abortion will immediately seek to protect their views from Washington, D.C.

    If anything, those who advocate waiting for the culture “to change” strike me as similar to the “white moderates” addressed by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his Letter From Birmingham Jail.

  • Eric I think that for a HUman Right act to pass we would need more than a simple majority.

    If it returns to the States I have a feeling the COurt would be wary of drastic regulations to protect or ban abortion via commerce clause

  • “Abortion was imposed by judicial fiat in an outrageous power grab by the courts. It belongs in the democratic process.”

    The degree to which murder is decriminalized does NOT belong in the democratic process. Murder is murder is murder. I’m ok with chipping away, but the “compromise and reduction” that Mr. Douthat commends is total garbage. The same sort of garbage that made Roe possible with the Blackmun exception.

    A personhood bill could make an end run around Roe. Why is this never acknowledged here?

  • Steve,

    A personhood bill would not (successfully) make an end run around Roe. Roe says that women have a Constitutional right to abortion. Congressional legislation infringing on that ‘right,’ even a personhood bill, would be struck down to the extent it interfered with that right. There are really only two ways to ahieve more abortion restrictions: 1) A constitutional amendment; 2) Changing the composition of the Court.

    Douthat’s piece is an effort to point out to a liberal audience (i.e. NYT readership) that Roe is the most serious obstacle to abortion compromise (which most liberals claim to want) in the United States. Even if you dislike the compromise you think he’s selling (which is undefined in the article btw), you should recognize that Douthat’s main objective here is doing spadework for overturning Roe. This is valuable work from a pro-life perspective, even if you would prefer to see different strategies emphasized.

  • “(If the) suggestion of personhood [of the preborn] is established, the [abortion rights] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.”

    -Justice Blackmun in the Roe v. Wade decision

  • Steve,

    As I said, even if Congress passed a law stating that fetuses are persons entitled to legal protection, I think the current Court would simply disregard it. The Court has held abortion is a fundamental right; in doing so, it has held that fetuses are not persons under the Constitution. A law passed by Congress cannot alter the meaning of the Constitution. Granted, the Court’s claim that abortion is a right guaranteed by the Constitution is based on very dubious reasoning, but correcting this mistake requires changing the composition of the Court.

  • Mr. Henry,

    I suppose I’ll accept that premise since I know it frustrates you as much as it frustrates me.

    That said, I think pushing a personhood bill is necessary, and the GOP’s failure to even attempt it makes them contemptible in my eyes.