Illustration by Cody Angell
By Shane Dale
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday Jan. 10, 2002
This one is almost too easy. Almost, but not quite. Last month, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) made the political bungle of 2001. Here's how it went down.
Daschle and Senate liberals decided they didn't want a stimulus package to help revive America's two-year lagging economy for fear that an economic recovery would occur before the congressional elections of November 2002. So he decided to block whatever bill was passed, thinking that House and Senate Republicans would be unwilling to compromise with Democrats on all the spending they wanted to load the bill with (unemployment benefits, health care for the unemployed, etc.).
Then, something completely unanticipated occurred: House Republicans called his bluff. In a political chess move that was shrewd at worst, brilliant at best, they not only compromised with House Democrats; they caved in to their demands.
While the Republican-controlled House got many of the corporate and middle-class tax breaks they wanted, they also loaded the bill with Democrat stipulations, including an additional 13 weeks in unemployment benefits and extended health care benefits to those who had recently lost their jobs. This put the Senate Majority Leader between a rock and a hard place.
Knowing the bill would pass with at least 52 votes, Daschle was faced with two not-so-pleasant choices: bite the bullet and let it pass, knowing full well that the bill would speed along America's economic recovery, or take the heat and block the bill altogether, betting everything on his party's ability to effectively spin the mishap.
Ultimately, he chose option two. Daschle blocked the bill from even getting to the Senate floor, knowing that the necessary 60 votes to override the block were not there.
His move will be remembered as an obstructive and foolish one. Even Democratic National Committee Chairman and human spin machine Terry McAuliffe won't get Daschle out of this mess.
McAuliffe tried to justify Daschle's roadblock by speculating that the bill didn't have enough votes to pass in the Senate. Why then, Mr. McAuliffe, was Daschle not confident enough to put it to a vote if it were to be defeated anyway? As usual, you're full of crap, McAuliffe, and you ought to know better.
The Majority Leader knows full well that supply-side economics creates jobs. Call it trickle down, corporate welfare, crap on a stick; it works.
Many corporations and small businesses are currently sitting on the money they have because they're afraid to spend it in a slumping market where a greater percentage of unemployed people equals less money to spend. Give these businesses more of their money back, and they begin to regain enough confidence to rehire workers. More employed Americans equals more money generated for the economy and more revenue for the federal government.
Daschle experienced this phenomenon firsthand alongside Ronald Reagan, the man the left loves to hate. Under Reagan's two tax cuts, the first of which took effect in 1983, federal revenue doubled from '83 to the end of the decade, cleaning up the huge economic mess of the 70s. As a result, American jobs were created at the rate of 1.9 million a year in the 80s. Deficits from that decade, which Daschle likes to blame on Reagan's cuts, mounted because of spending by a Democrat-controlled Congress, which spent $1.83 for every dollar it inherited.
Daschle might even be old enough to remember how his fellow Democrat, John F. Kennedy, accomplished unprecedented economic growth via similar methods in the '60s.
Extending unemployment benefits is okay as long as those who have lost their jobs are additionally offered a way to provide for themselves. Daschle isn't interested in that. He seems to think that federal handouts alone will create jobs, and newly out-of-work Americans will stimulate the economy by spending their checks on cars and appliances. And he doesn't seem to be kidding.
The unemployed are going to spend their unemployment checks on the necessities - food, rent, bills, etc. And it's only a temporary fix. Americans shouldn't have to settle for just being able to live with the pain a little longer. They deserve quality jobs and the opportunity to regain financial independence.
Daschle won't hear of it. He's relying on Americans' short-term memories and a stagnant economy in-line for November '02. But too many Americans have had enough. They won't grant him his wish.