Beware of the lame-duck Congress

David Bossie President, Citizens United
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Republicans may be in control of the U.S. House of Representatives when the 112th Congress comes to Washington, D.C. in January, but the 111th Congress isn’t dead yet.  When the disastrous Pelosi-Reid-led Congress comes back for its lame-duck session on November 15th, it should have one thing in mind: do no more harm to country or party.  But clearly, doing what the American people want has not been the modus operandi thus far.  We should all be uneasy, because six weeks is enough time to do a lot more damage if we let our guard down.

Let’s review.  When the 111th Congress began its war on prosperity in January 2009, the national debt registered at $10.6 trillion; it is currently $13.7 trillion and rising rapidly.  The unemployment rate stood at 7.7 percent.  Today, 22 months later, because Obama, Pelosi, and Reid focused on everything except jobs and the economy, our unemployment rate has been stuck at 9.6 percent for three months and has been over 9 percent for 18 straight months.  This is the first time this has happened since 1982-1983, when unemployment stayed above 9 percent for 19 straight months before the Reagan economic package took effect by ushering in unprecedented economic growth for the rest of the decade.  If this lame-duck Congress does one thing and one thing only — it is imperative that it extends every single one of President Bush’s tax relief items.  Before the historic 2010 elections, Obama, Pelosi, and Reid’s tax strategy seemed to be centered on picking and choosing who deserves tax cuts and who doesn’t.  Continuing this anti-growth mentality in the lame-duck session would be a colossal mistake and would cause gridlock in the U.S. Senate.  It doesn’t take a genius to know that in this type of economic climate every American urgently needs tax relief, not just the folks Obama, Pelosi, and Reid judge to be worthy of help.

It’s not a stretch to say that a majority of Americans would be satisfied with the 111th Congress coming back, extending the tax cuts and leaving for home, never to be seen again, except in the history books in the “how NOT to govern” section.  However, if Obama, Pelosi, and Reid go in the wrong direction once again — that is to force unpopular legislation on the American people while they still have the numbers — they would only be inviting further destruction of their party as well as setting back our economic recovery.  Whether it be attempting to pass an amnesty immigration bill that would reward illegal activity; or trying to ram cap and trade (also known as cap and tax) through the Senate somehow; or convincing some fragile Senate Republicans to approve President Obama’s naïve New START treaty; or, for a third time, trying to limit First Amendment rights with the DISCLOSE Act, Democrats would be wise to look at their 2012 election map a bit early before doing something astonishingly dense.

Consider these stubborn facts.  In the U.S. Senate for starters, 21 Democrats and 2 Independents who caucus with Democrats will face the voters in 2012.  Across the aisle, only 10 Republicans in the Senate are up for re-election.  At least 11 of these Senate Democrats (Sherrod Brown (OH); Maria Cantwell (WA); Bob Casey (PA); Amy Klobuchar (MN); Joe Manchin (WV); Claire McCaskill (MO); Ben Nelson (NE); Bill Nelson (FL); Debbie Stabenow (MI); Jon Tester (MT); and Jim Webb (VA)) will face tough challenges.  Conversely, only 2 out of the 10 Republicans will face any kind of fight (Scott Brown (MA) and John Ensign (NV)).

There is no doubt that any effort to move these unpopular items on the Democrat wish list would be remembered by the voters in two years and appropriately punished.  Meanwhile, across the U.S. Capitol Building in the lower chamber, although more than 60 seats will switch from Democrat to Republican, at least two dozen more Democrat members had their political lives flash before their eyes in very close races.  These Democrats know who they are, and would be wise to stop Nancy Pelosi’s lame-duck charge before it starts.

In closing, the best course of action for the lame-duck Democrats is to simply work with Republicans to extend all the Bush tax cuts, and then go home and get started on a different agenda that doesn’t make Americans think of Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter’s worst days.

David N. Bossie is the president of Citizens United and Citizens United Productions, and the executive producer of “America at Risk.”