- Americans have learned to expect little from Congress, and by that standard the 109th version controlled by Republicans has met expectations. On the other hand, anyone who hoped that the GOP would make something of its historic governing opportunity is bound to be disappointed so far.
- Five months in, Congress can point to the following achievements: a bankruptcy bill 10 years in the making, and a class-action reform watered down essentially to a jurisdictional change to federal from state courts. That's about it. Among the 2004 campaign promises that aren't close to being fulfilled are making the Bush tax cuts permanent, reforming Social Security and expanding the market for private health care. Instead of any of those big three, Congress next seems poised to pass a subsidy-laden energy bill and a highway bill with some 4,000 earmarks for individual Members. For this we elected Republicans?
- The Democratic/media explanation for this performance is that Republicans are "overreaching" and trying to "govern from the right." We should be so lucky. The fact is that they are governing from nowhere at all. Far from pushing their agenda, they seem cowed by their opposition into playing it safe and attempting too little.
It is thanks to the lack of public support for their policies that they must write of developing an "exit strategy" on the Social Security issue with hopes of reviving it in 2006. Should they be so foolish as to take their goals to the voters, this could result in a change in control of Congress similar to what occurred after the Democrats offered a health care plan as poorly conceived in its own way as the Republican's Social Security plan.
They conclude by noting that, "Above all, the fight over Mr. Bush's Supreme Court nominations will determine whether the GOP's Senate majority counts for anything at all. The voters don't expect miracles, but they do expect better than what Republicans have so far been able to produce." They are again wrong if they believe the public wants the type of far right extremist judges they desire. Fortunately the threat of a filibuster remains alive after last weeks deal, which will likely reduce the rightward drift of the court which we would have seen if Reid hadn't outsmarted Frist.