S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Follow-up on Congressional Favorites --

The Senate just passed HR 627, a credit card regulation bill, with 90 votes of yes and 5 voting no. Sponsored by Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn) and Republican Senator Shelby, the bill mandates stiffer protections for consumers. Its provisions include a prohibition against raising card rates until after 60 days of delinquency, requiring 45 days notice before rates can be raised and prohibiting raising rates during the first year the card is issued.

The House had passed its own version of the bill April 30 by a vote of 357-70. The Senate, in an obvious compromise, included an amendment to allow guns in national parks and recreation areas. The Senate failed, however, to pass an amendment that would have given bankruptcy judges the authority to include mortgages in bankruptcy settlements.

Senators congratulated Senior Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich) just prior to the vote, for casting his 11,000 vote in a 30 year career. The Majority and Minority Leaders spoke in glowing terms about him as one of their most respected colleagues, whom one speaker characterized as "rumpled and unassuming, with a towering intellect, a good legal mind and an attention to detail."

His brother Sander Levin came to the U.S. House of Representatives five years after Senator Levin. His Michigan colleague, Junior Senator Debbie Stabenow also spoke about her honor at serving in the Senate with Senator Levin. He grinned shyly, he spoke briefly, and with his eyes twinkling, he quickly got back to work, helping to pass the credit card reform legislation.

Addendum --

This post is a follow-up to an earlier post regarding "What's to like about these legislators?" (cross posted at TPM Cafe). That earlier TPM post created a lively discussion sparked by KateO, who commented,
"I remember. I worked for a congressional agency in the 1980s-early 1990s. I'd say there was coequal status in the 1980s, despite Reagan's popularity. In the 1990s, especially after 1994, it just became a battleground between the Executive and Legislative Branches--purely partisan. Then, in the 2000s, we had the Imperial Presidency with a totally subservient Congress. I would like Congress to be coequal, but we need smarter people in both Chambers, especially the House, for that to be something we actually want to happen."

I replied,

"Kate, I had that thought as I made my brash proposal re "coequal." Several things have made the talent pool diminish: need for fundraising makes lots of the good ones retire in disgust; the self-marginalization of the Republican party towards religiosity, regionalism, and reactionary views; and jerry-mandered congressional districts that happened after the last census. Last, and I hate to say this, because I have always liked Bill Clinton, he gave the Republicans far too many excuses for partisanship with his personal foibles.
I still think the only answer is public financing of campaigns. The money has such a corrupting influence.
Thanks for such a thoughtful comment. You nudged my ideas towards another post, I think. :-)"

Kate replied:

"Oh goody. Sometimes I feel like a dinosaur--I've lived and worked in DC for a LONG time (health and science policy). It helps to run things against someone who has a sense of history. So, please write that new blog. Although I am a lifelong Democrat, I very much miss the days when there were smart, honest Republicans in Congress, to provide a balance. I firmly believe in balance of power and it is a bit sad that the Republicans don't understand that that means responsible and informed leadership. We need to get away from the politics of personal vendetta. I worked for the Clinton Administration, and have said many times on this site that I was personally hurt by his personal lapses. It undercut all the good things we were trying to do. You just can't give your enemies that ammunition. I am hopeful that Obama realizes that. In fact, I am sure he does. So, here's to the best of all branches of government. We sure as hell deserve it! There are good people in government trying to do good things. Thanks for acknowledging that."

Now, back to C-SPAN.

[Post date - May 19, 2009]

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