May 22, 2008
Both the House of Representatives (Wednesday) and the Senate (this evening) voted to override President Bush's veto of the $307 billion farm bill, a stinging rebuke to The Prez. In the Senate, the vote was 82 to 13, as 35 Republican senators opted for political safety instead of legislative propriety. Through an apparent oversight by the "enrolling clerk," the section of the bill on trade policy, including international food aid programs, had been omitted from the version of the document that was voted on, as opposed to the version the President vetoed. House Minority Leader John Boehner called for an investigation of this irregularity, but it was voted down on party lines. Democratic leaders in Congress say they will submit a separate bill on farm trade in the next few days. See Washington Post.
What is at stake here, really? Well, the bending of the procedural rules was cause for serious concern, but the main question is whether or not the Republican Party remains truly commited to its traditional supreme standard of fiscal restraint. Whenever the economy turns sour, as it is right now, there is an enormous temptation for less-scrupulous legislators to pander to ill-informed voters by making spending commitments under bogus pretenses that it will "reinvigorate the economy" or "alleviate suffering." In most cases, it just wastes the taxpayer's money without accomplishing any long-term objective other than keeping the incumbent politicans in office.
Colorado Senator Ken Salazar (a Democrat) hailed the veto override which he says will open up a "new chapter of opportunity for rural America." He had taken a lead role in passing key elements of the farm bill, including nutrition programs, biofuels incentives, and "investments" in rural communities. Apparently, most GOP senators agree with him... See his Web site; hat tip to Connie.
So Senator Clinton won Kentucky by a landslide (65% to 30%), while Senator Obama won Oregon by a comfortable margin. Obama apparently now has a majority of pledged delegates, depending on how Florida and Michigan will be handled. The ambiguous election outcome on Tuesday means that there is still a tiny, non-negligible mathematical possibility that Clinton could somehow pull off a "miracle." It's not over yet! As Senator McCain said on Saturday Night Live, Republicans don't want the Democratic leaders to make any hasty decisions. They ought to weigh very carefully each candidate's pros and cons, and then weigh them again, and again...