Feature:Opinion

Lame duck session poses threat to Democrats in November

Democrats in Congress are clearly considering convening a lame duck session of congress after November’s elections to move much of their liberal agenda.  Last week Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to rule it out, and when Senator John Kerry was asked recently if cap-and-trade legislation was dead, he said it wasn’t because “we’re going to have a lame-duck session and we have weeks ahead of us.”

But voters are leery of the Democratic majority in congress reconvening after the election to pass a cap-and-trade bill, immigration reform, card check legislation or tax increases, according to a poll released today by Resurgent Republic, a conservative non-profit group (on whose board I serve) that tests public opinion on important policy questions.

In the new survey of voters in the dozen states listed as Senate toss-ups in the Cook Political Report, 69 percent of voters agreed that a lame duck session of Congress is a bad idea because “members of Congress should cast votes on important bills before facing the voters, not wait until after an election to cast those votes,” versus just 26 percent who agreed that a lame duck session is a good idea because “it allows Congress to address issues that it did not have time for before the election, and those issues can be addressed without the pressure of an impending election.”

By a margin of 63 to 32 percent, voters sided with the candidate who says “these are important issues that have long-lasting effects, and if they’re not voted on before the November elections we should wait until the newly elected Congress meets” over the candidate who says, “these are important issues that deserve to be voted on by Congress as soon as possible.  If Congress cannot get to them before the election, then they should be addressed in a lame duck session immediately after the election regardless of the election’s outcome.”

Voters feel strongly enough about the wrongness of moving controversial legislation after the elections that 63 percent  said they would be less likely to vote to re-elect a member of Congress who refused to rule out voting for tax increases, immigration reform, cap-and-trade legislation or a card check bill in a lame duck session of Congress.

Additionally, unless Congress acts before the end of this year Americans will face tax increases hitting everyone from married couples to parents to low income earners to investors to survivors of deceased parents.  Resurgent Republic’s survey showed that only a little over half of all voters (54 percent) are aware that the largest tax increase in American history is slated to take effect on January 1, 2011 if Congress does not act.