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Left/Right bloggers: Huge split on defict; smaller split on Obama's on-line mobilization:

In this week's National Journal poll of political bloggers, the first topics was "How should Congress respond to the recent deficit projections?" The first question thereunder produced a rare perfect split between the Left and the Right. One hundred percent of the Left said that Congress should "Pass something close to President Obama's budget," and 100 percent of the Right said not. The options of "Delay some major Obama initiatives" and "Cut the growth in entitlements" also yielded huge splits, although not quite 100% vs. 100%. "Cut the growth in defense spending" got 80% support on the Left, and 35% support on the Right.

My comment: "The congressional majority's handling of the 'stimulus' -- particularly in forcing votes before the conference report could even be read -- evoked the last days of the Roman Republic, with a legislature abdicating governing responsibility to an all-powerful executive. At the least, the rank and file of both parties should insist on proper legislative procedures when the budget is considered, so that every legislator (or his staff) has time to read the budget before every vote."

The second topic was "What effect will Obama's online mobilization effort have on Democratic efforts to pass the budget?" On the Left, 94% said it would help either a lot or a little. Forty-two percent on the Right felt the same way; within both groups, "a little" was by far the leading choice. I voted "a little", and commented: "Because the budget promotes even more of the same old failed policies of D.C. (wasteful pork spending and reckless deficits) rather than the change that Obama promised, it will be interesting to see whether the Obama online network is so devoted to the cult of personality that they will mobilize in large numbers."

allan (mail):
I am afraid that you may be correct about the last days of the Roman Republic.

I hope that the Democrats step up to the plate. Something that the Republican congress failed to do for six years.
Obama simply is too conservative...
3.27.2009 12:42pm
Fugle:
Me thinks that Augustus may be disinclined to pay heed to your unkind remarks; however, I would be wary of any cakes or sweet meats received from Livia.
3.27.2009 12:43pm
Josh Barro (www):
David,

Why are your comments in the NJ poll always so demagogic? I mean, Obama as Julius Caesar? Really? It's beneath the thoughtful tone of this blog.
3.27.2009 12:53pm
Bring back the old Conspiracy!:
3.27.2009 12:58pm
PQuincy1:
"...evoked the last days of the Roman Republic, with a legislature abdicating governing responsibility to an all-powerful executive."

This seems off-base on two counts.

1. The bill, as was much reported in the press at the time, certainly reflected the President's desire for a stimulus bill, but its contents clearly reflected extensive Congressional negotiations, both among Democracts (especially in the house) and between Democrats and three filibuster-blocking Republicans in the Senate. One might make an argument that the rapid passage through both Houses of the conference report represented party tyranny on the Hill, but there's little reason to believe it reflects nothing but executive brancy tyranny.

2. Second, where were these complaints from 1994 to 2006? Similar tactics, including stacked conference committees, large bills with no time to read them, etc., are not a new phenomenon.
3.27.2009 1:19pm
gerbilsbite:
Ugh, there's a reason when I recommend this site to people I remind them that not all Conspirators are created equal. I even mention you by name, Dave, right after I tell people how thoughtful and insightful Orin, Dale, Eugene, Randy and Sasha generally are in their posts and comments....
3.27.2009 2:10pm
Houston Lawyer:
Why are your comments in the NJ poll always so demagogic?

I suppose some commentary describing the thoughtful processes and rhetoric engaged in by our current Congress should follow this question.
3.27.2009 2:27pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> Second, where were these complaints from 1994 to 2006? Similar tactics, including stacked conference committees, large bills with no time to read them, etc., are not a new phenomenon.

If you argued that it was wrong for Bush to do those things, you can't use "Bush did it" as an excuse....

To put it another way, perhaps the complainers were convinced by your arguments. Is it really unreasonable for you to now live up to them?

Of course, you're free to admit that they were correct before and it's good for you to behave as they did.
3.27.2009 2:33pm
Anon21:
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb,davidk

You mean I don't have to choose any more? Hallelujah!
3.27.2009 3:00pm
David Drake:
Professor Kapel


My comment: "The congressional majority's handling of the 'stimulus' -- particularly in forcing votes before the conference report could even be read -- evoked the last days of the Roman Republic, with a legislature abdicating governing responsibility to an all-powerful executive.


Given that the "stimulus" bill was drafted by Congress, my take was just the reverse--a weak, parliamentary-style executive together with parliamentary leadership "whipping" the parliament to pass a bill drafted by parliament and loaded up with goodies to reward parliament's constituents.

Of course it was an abdication of responsibility by most members of Congress, but it was not the first and will certainly not be the last.
3.27.2009 4:41pm
Mark Buehner (mail):
Regardless of who was driving it, nothing excuses rushing a bill through before it can be read and then sitting on it for 3 days for a Valentine's Day weekend before flying across the country to sign it. That's pure demagoguery and Obama was very vocal about holding the vote instantly.
3.27.2009 5:45pm
Thoughtful (mail):
Gentlemen, gentlemen...there's MORE than enough blame to go around: those who blame Congress to defend the President, and those who blame the President to defend Congress are BOTH right! Those who blame the Democrats to defend the right and those who blame the Republicans to defend the left are BOTH right!

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule -- and both commonly succeed, and are right.--HL Mencken
3.27.2009 7:07pm
Tritium (mail):
The problem is, Congress sees themselves as the Creator, thus entititled by that proclamation to stake their claim and promote the interests that promote them. People will talk for years how once a great country, did nothing to save itself.

Ask Mr. Norman Dodd

Worth watching the entire 1st at the very least.
3.27.2009 8:23pm
Member of the New Ruling Class (mail):
So, who's up for a Dogbert monarchy!
3.27.2009 8:50pm
Richard A. (mail):
I've pretty much given up on the national Republican Party for precisely this reason. When out of power during the Clinton years they admirably pushed for the balanced budget amendment and came within one Senate vote of sending it off for almost certain ratification.

Then they win the White House. Oops! They somehow forgot about that little old amendment and went on a spending spree. And then last year they pilloried Ron Paul for suggesting they were wasteful.

And now they've miraculously become fiscal conservatives again.

It will take them years to get any credibility back with true conservatives.
3.28.2009 11:24am
David Drake:
Richard A--

I agree with that. But they've got to start somewhere and sometime.

I would like to hear some "mia culpas" from the big spending Congressional Republicans and pledges that they will stick to their "smaller government" philosophy if the GOP regains control of Congress. That would be a good start.

I've heard some apologize for Congress's spending, but none of the "earmarkers."
3.28.2009 11:40am
Richard A. (mail):
David: Also, one thing I left out: Had the BBA been ratified by the states, it would now take 60 votes in the Senate to pass an unbalanced budget. The Republicans could have been blocking this budget instead of whining about it.
3.28.2009 12:43pm
Nick056:
David, was the UAMF an abdictation of Congressional authority? Was the PATRIOT Act a travesty of the Democratic Process? Was the attempt to forever ban one sort of filibuster, for the sake of one or two nominees, rather the evidence of a short-sighted majority with little clue as to prolonged leadership strategies? Was a president who commissoned and reserved the right to act upon the Yoo memos at least redolant to you of a Roman emporer seeking an official seal of approval to dispose as he would with the freedoms of his citizens, pursuant to implied powers stemming from the rather extra-Constitutionally drafted UAMF? What about when he tried to appoint his unqualified associate to the Supreme Court? What about the deficit projections that excluded major costs of war?

Or did you not feel the need to use hysteric rhetoric in those cases and compare Bush to Julius Caesar? If you did, why omit the comparison ... And if you said the same things then, why don't you realize that constant hysterics undermine your point? Or at least mention that if anything, the Congressional response to AIG bonuses was more populist and myopic than the stimulus debate? Even that would strengthen your overall observation, as representatives were actually saying bankers ought to kill themselves and signing up en masse, regardless of party, to punish via taxation. The stimulus, on the other hand, was a party line vote with lots of gnashing on either side.

The fact that, in the context of the past 15 years or so (even in the context of the past three weeks or so) you view a $787 billion dollar spending bill -- 36% it in the form of tax relief -- as nigh on the end of the Roman Republic, rather than at minimum, sad business as usual, is bizarre. Especially given that the alternate stimulus was a far larger number, except it was almost all tax cuts. In the past I've tried to engage your opinions reasonably where there was reason in them to start out with. But you're simply beneath that level of dialogue.

A smart observer who wanted to use some heated rhetoric might well liken the crossing of the Rubicon to the passage of the Graham-Leech-Bliliy act, which helped lead us into the present crisis. Do you know what that is, precisely? At least that would have some sensible relevance, though it was still hardly the fall of the Republic.

Do you have any idea how silly your warmed-over demagouging looks?
3.28.2009 3:48pm

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