You had to see it to believe it.
For once, conservative Democrats were refusing to be split off. In fact, the Blue Dogs were furious. They had offered a 12 point proposal for budget reduction, and the Republicans kept throwing in their face the claim that they hadn't. They denounced the so-called budget reconciliation process
(aka sausage making) as a sham two weeks ago. By baiting the Blue Dogs on the House floor-- repeatedly (and, if you understand the arguments, inappropriately) calling people liars--they may have forced those Democrats to understand that no compromise is possible.
What happened instead of a Democratic cave-in is that a few Republicans wanted to be seen as moderates (I don't know how they imagine they will accomplish this after going along with extremists for 10 years), and they splintered away from their party on the big vote.
Grant the Republicans one thing: they know how to confuse people. What is this "entitlement spending" that's rising so rapidly? A lot of people imagine that it's welfare. They'd be shocked to learn that it's Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and veterans benefits
. It's rising because the nation is aging and putting soldiers in harm's way.
Or take this example: Is it a "cut" when a program rises 7% a year while general inflation is rising at 3-4% a year? Well, with medical insurance costs up 11.2% in 2004
, yes, it's a cut. You deliver fewer services or deliver the same services to fewer people. So, why are the Republicans calling people "liars" for pointing this out?
The thing is, they've been playing this game for so many years that they've gutted the social services side of the budget. People will freeze to death this winter, because Low Income Heating (LIHEAP) is being cut. People are being denied vital medications like insulin. If we have an epidemic, whether of drug resistant TB or of avian flu or of flesh eating bacteria, it has an excellent chance of becoming a catastrophe, because public health has all but ceased to exist.
Tonight, the Republicans lost control of the House. But more important, they have lost control of the country, which is, I think, rapidly headed toward a crash of some kind. There is no victory to celebrate, except perhaps the victory that Democrats, who have let the Republicans take the country to the brink, are not 100% hopeless. But we are all about to suffer the consequences of 10 years of Republican control.