The new Congress is being seated and Democrats have taken control of the House of Representatives. In the minority Democrats were unified and voted as a solid bloc to oppose any Republican initiative. It is easy to vote no on things but more difficult to muster the votes necessary to pass legislation. Speaker Ryan was frustrated over and over by the Freedom Caucus, a group of right-wing legislators, and on many key occasions was unable to secure votes to pass legislation.
Now Nancy Pelosi has assumed the title of Speaker and her job will be to pass bills. But she has a similar problem with the left-wing of her party. She already had to cut deals with them to gain the votes to become Speaker and on legislation they will demand the party move more and more to the left. Of course, all of this is just political theater since the Senate is Republican and bills supported by the left-wing of the party will simply die in the Senate and never see the light of day.
But make no mistake, the left-wing of the Democrat party is alive and well in the Senate as well. In a hint of what is coming two Democrat Senators have questioned a judicial nominee about his membership in the Knights of Columbus. What they are basically laying the groundwork for is a series of questions to any judicial nominee about their personal faith. Senators Kamela Harris (D-CA) an Mazie Hirono (D-HA) in their written questions to Brian Buescher asked him about his membership in the group and basically demanded that he resign from the group should he be confirmed to the bench.
This nation was founded on religious freedom. This was the basic tenet of the original settlers from the Puritans in New England, the Quakers in Pennsylvania to the Catholics in Maryland. Now the far left in this country wants anyone in the judiciary to basically denounce their faith and pledge fealty to their form of secularism. But nobody should be fooled by their antics. They are laying the groundwork for their attacks on someone that could be the next nominee to the Supreme Court. Judge Amy Barrett is considered to be on any short list for the next opening under a Republican President. She was a professor at Notre Dame Law School and an active member of the Roman Catholic Church. She and her husband have seven children, five of which are their biological children and two were adopted from Haiti. Her youngest biological child has special needs.
This is where these two Senators are headed. They are going to oppose Amy Barrett if she is nominated and their basis for opposition will boil down to her being a Catholic.
The real losers in all of this are the Federal Judiciary and the American people. It used to be that nominees to the various federal courts were judged on their legal worthiness and not on political issues of the day. But that is rapidly changing as the left demands that judges conform to their political positions or they run the risk of facing stiff opposition. I am afraid that the right will engage in a tit-for-tat arrangement and begin opposing judges that they deem politically unacceptable. I fully realize that groups on the left and right have been doing this for some time, but Senators have eschewed this type of behavior and tried to be fair. But history tells us that this too is fading, and the new breed of Senators want to inject politics into every facet of our lives.
Looking back at the House the agenda they have initially laid out gives you a hint of where they intend to try and force the policy debate. Speaker Pelosi said she wanted to go back to the “Pay-Go” rules which require you to show the revenue for any spending that you want to increase. This was immediately derided by the left-wing of the party. They want to tax and spend to their heart’s content and no silly rule should be in place that would inhibit their intentions. I applaud the Speaker for this attempt at fiscal sanity. It is something that should have remained in place during Republican majorities but politicians being who they are they cannot constrain themselves from spending with little regard to the deficits they create. Republicans derided President Obama for his massive increases in the national debt and seemed to forget to criticize President Bush for his increases. Now Trump has increased the deficit.
We need fiscal sanity in the Halls of Congress, but it is nowhere to be found.
Democrats are now proposing that we increase the corporate rate again. The last tax bill cut the rate from 35% to 21%. They want to take it back to 28% or higher. They ignore the fact that even President Obama realized the rate was to high and recommended it be cut to 22%. This cut was made to stem the tide of corporations moving their headquarters to countries where the tax rate is more favorable. Next, they want to increase taxes on high earners with some suggesting marginal rates as high as 70%. This came from the latest darling of the left, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), who once again showed her lack of both experience and knowledge by not understanding those rates existed at a time when deductions were available to basically shelter income from those rates. That tax bill passed in the last Congress continued to eliminate deductions. But AOC makes uninformed statements on a regular basis and one can only hope that eventually she gets the facts straight before she comments. (President Trump could take a lesson in this curriculum as well)
One last comment on taxes from me is simply this: I would have left the top rate in the last tax bill at 39% instead of cutting it to 37%. This is a minor issue and only affects taxable income over $500,000 and by reducing it the Democrats were able to turn it into a talking point.
So, buckle up ladies and gentlemen. We are going to spend the next two years in unending investigations in the House and continued stalemates in the Senate due to Rule 13 which requires 60 votes to pass anything. This is divided government and both sides will blame each other.