Requiem for the Pelosi Democrats: Veteran Democratic Rep. Brian Baird says that job creation should have been priority "number one, two and three."
There will be many Democrats wondering what went wrong this Wednesday. This guy is the first - a stunning amount of candor from someone who's already thrown in the towel:
Mr. Baird recalls that he was "very excited" when his party took control of Congress in 2006, but he saw ominous signs early on. Before the 2006 election, he says, Mrs. Pelosi had 30 members working on a rules package to make the House more ethical and deliberative. "We abandoned all that work after the election, and leaders told us we should trust them to clean things up. I don't know a single member of the Democratic caucus who saw the final rules package before they voted on it."
Democrats also watered down efforts to practice fiscal responsibility. "We initially had numbers a bit more honest than the Republicans - we at least included war costs in the budget," he says. "Now we're authorizing programs for three years instead of five in an attempt to pretend we're saving money."
Bush wrecked this country
For some of the shortcomings of financial regulatory reform, Mr. Baird blames the disillusioning battle over ObamaCare. "When the House had to pass the Senate version of health care unchanged, some members asked why should they invest the mental effort in mastering the details" of financial reform. Mr. Baird found parts of the bill mind-numbing.
Thinking hurts! It's too hard!
Regarding health care, his specialty, Mr. Baird gave House Democrats real heartburn. He voted against the first version of ObamaCare in November 2009, because the Congressional Budget Office and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services hadn't yet analyzed the bill's impact on insurance premiums and medical costs.
"What the hell were we doing voting on this? I had labor groups come to me and insist the bill was so important we couldn't wait to know what was in it," he recalls. "I asked them if they were handed a new union contract and told it was so important they had to agree to it without reading it, would they go along?" ...
The frightening thing is that they probably would.
... he acknowledges that the bill carried within it the seeds of its unpopularity. These include the nightmare mandate that all companies report to the IRS all of their business-to-business transactions over $600, so the government can capture unreported business income. At a recent forum with small business owners in his district, Mr. Baird was stunned at the complexity of the rules they now must follow.
Businesses and individuals who intend to comply with the law are required to understand it.
Congressmen who write it... don't? What's wrong with this picture?
Democrats, he says, will also have to recognize why they lost touch with voters. "Back in September, we had pollsters and strategists from my party tell members that the mass of people didn't care about the deficit. The mind-boggling lack of reality coming from some of the people who give us so-called advice is stunning."
It's your job, Mr. Congressmen, to listen to this "so-called advice," evaluate it on its merits, form your own conclusions, then debate, build a consensus, and draft legislation that captures the intent of the people you have sworn to represent. Is that so much to ask?
If the people wanted to cede control of our government to lobbyists, then we'd amend the Constitution, dissolve Congress, and appoint Lady Gaga as Dictator. Until then you're expected to represent your constituents.
"A lot of rethinking is needed" after Democrats take their drubbing, Mr. Baird says, especially since he anticipates "a huge number of retirements" from Democrats unwilling to serve in the minority.
Close, Mr. future former Congressman. A lot of thinking
was needed. There was none, and now it's too late. Don't say you weren't warned.