Tuesday, December 22, 2015

"Omnibus" Used to Mean "For All"

I have been writing sporadically about the current election contest among Republicans. On one hand, I have been overwhelmed by the outrage, anger, vehement comments from my bicoastal friends who maintain that Obama is one of America's greatest chief executives, that his policies are moderate and should receive more "bipartisan" support, and Republicans are insane, controlled by right wing loons.

I, of course, am comfortably ensconced in an alternative universe. I'm of the opinion that Obama will be considered one of our least effective chief executive. Granted, he has accomplished a great deal in terms of his own agenda of fundamentally transforming America. He has institutionalized a national health insurance program, he has withdrawn troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan, he has used executive orders to begin legalization of illegal immigrants and he has taken no steps to either reduce the size of government or address the deficit which is approaching $20 trillion.

Unlike the bicoastals, I am not offended by the lunacy on display among the Republican contenders vying to replace Obama. I've expressed my opinion in other posts about Donald Trump; he is exploiting the anger and powerlessness that's been stewing among Republicans, even moderate ones, for many years. This is not opposition to Obama personally, but a rejection of progressivism and an outrage that Republican leadership has not been more expressive in resisting his ideology.

Other candidates are mining this vein as well, but ultimately are doing so on the coat tails of the media's obsession with Trump. The media are engaged in the ultimate expression of hypocrisy: they ridicule him and his "followers" with gusto, but cannot disengage themselves from the massive audiences and ratings and cash flow featuring him provides. Hillary is comfortably nested on the sidelines, but despite the liberal punditry's assessment that there is far more serious policy engagement taking place during Democratic debates, no one is watching.

So, the billion dollar question, as Donald might say, is whether his dominant polling will turn into primary victories. The accepted speculation today is that Cruz will win Iowa, Trump will triumph in New Hampshire with Christie a surprising second, Trump in South Carolina with Cruz a strong second and Nevada as Rubio's final shot at relevance.

In the background, now, is the firestorm generated by the so called "omnibus" spending bill. It translates from Latin as "for all". It is perceived as another repudiation of the Republican majority in both houses, a resounding victory for Obama and the Democratic minority, a "back room" deal negotiated secretly without public examination or congressional review. The die was cast when the resignation of Speaker Boehner was secured, and Speaker Ryan dutifully delivered. It was an embarrassing performance, artfully engineered by the establishment and cooperation of both parties, and the timing could not have been more appalling.

The Republican "triumph" which seems to have been featured atop the press release was the elimination of the embargo against international sale of domestic oil. I'm sorry. What?? I am aware this embargo has existed and it is ridiculous, counterintuitive and anti-employment (Union employment, no less). Big frikkin whoop. Aside from symbolic gestures like defunding Planned Parenthood, which are hardly significant financially but important stands to take for the base, there isn't the most feeble attempt to reduce spending. When the Administration hails the deal, that's a very bad sign.

I know Trump has spoken out against the deal, but he had done so in ways where few specifics are mentioned. Rubio didn't even make the vote. Cruz at least theatrically opposes the measure with a "hell no" and decries the 2,000 pages which make up the measure. It could not possibly have been analyzed before passage, and Speaker Ryan needed Nancy Pelosi to whip the Democrats to insure passage. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Ryan's speakership is off to an inauspicious start and the Freedom Caucus better be crafting their explanations for not opposing his ascension. A guy who appeared so promising four years ago is either hopelessly compromised or inept at explaining his legislative strategy.

My bicoastal friends who embrace the transfer of wealth embraced by the the Paris climate change agreement; who laud Hillary Clinton as an intellectual champion of middle class economics, multiculturalism and foreign policy innovation; who cower from any engagement with terrorists both foreign and domestic; who brush opponents broadly with epithets culled from the manifestos of 60's iconography, may be slightly surprised by the way the "open rebellion" cited by Sen. Jeff Sessions is made manifest.

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