kens*ten: a political blog

We Need to Fear the Duck

Don't Call Me Lame

A common topic of discussion among political junkies is the predicted “Republican Resurgence” in the upcoming November 2010 election. Given the near universality of that theme — Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi being notable exceptions — it only follows that some are expecting Democrat hijinks in the ensuing “lame duck” Congress.  

John Fund of the Wall Street Journal reported:  

There have been signs in recent weeks that party leaders are planning an ambitious, lame-duck session to muscle through bills in December they don’t want to defend before November. Retiring or defeated members of Congress would then be able to vote for sweeping legislation without any fear of voter retaliation. 

Is this just conservative paranoia? Fund doesn’t think so. His article provides quotes from several Democrat congressmen indicating a lame duck session may be their last chance to adopt “progressive” legislation for the near future. As Fund concludes: 

Many Democrats insist there will be no dramatic lame-duck agenda. But a few months ago they also insisted the extraordinary maneuvers used to pass health care wouldn’t be used. Desperate times may be seen as calling for desperate measures, and this November the election results may well make Democrats desperate. 

Fund is not alone in his concern. Irwin Stelzer of the Weekly Standard wrote: 

The president plans to renew his attack on the private sector immediately after the November congressional elections. The defeated congressmen return to Washington for a lame-duck session that runs until the newly elected congress is seated early in January of next year. 

Already, the Democratic chairmen of key committees, aware they might lose control of congress, or at least the House, are preparing bills that their fellow Democrats, when seeking reelection, dared not support. 

Charles Krauthammer also expressed his unease in his Washington Post column: 

Assuming the elections go as currently projected, Obama’s follow-on reforms are dead. Except for the fact that a lame-duck session, freezing in place the lopsided Democratic majorities of November 2008, would be populated by dozens of Democratic members who had lost reelection (in addition to those retiring). They could then vote for anything — including measures they today shun as the midterms approach and their seats are threatened — because they would have nothing to lose. They would be unemployed. And playing along with Obama might even brighten the prospects for, say, an ambassadorship to a sunny Caribbean isle. 

So what can we do about the dangers posed by a runaway lame duck session?  Krauthammer advocates making this a prime issue in the upcoming congressional election. 

How then to prevent a runaway lame-duck Congress? Bring the issue up now — applying the check-and-balance of the people’s will before it disappears the morning after Election Day. Every current member should be publicly asked: In the event you lose in November […] do you pledge to adhere to the will of the electorate and, in any lame-duck session of Congress, refuse to approve anything but the most routine legislation required to keep the government functioning? 

Of course the problem is that the Democrats could lie. It wouldn’t be the first time… nor likely the last. 

This is why we need to fear the duck. 

© 2010 by kens*ten. All rights reserved. 


 WSJ Opinion Jornal Video: John Fund on “Lame Duck Strategy”  


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