Editorials

Who needs election? GOP already rules

We know our international visitors are here for horses, not bull. But those who are interested in U.S. politics can get a pretty good idea just by looking at last week in the Senate:

■ Republicans advanced their vision of an America ruled by and for monied interests, while sealing the doors of equality and opportunity to others.

■ Democrats were too afraid and fractured to put up much of a fight.

At week's end, the Democratic majority announced it would wait until after the November mid-term election to bring up President Barack Obama's plan to extend tax cuts for the middle class while ending those for the 2 percent of households whose annual incomes exceed $250,000.

Republicans blame Obama for average Americans' economic anxiety. Yet Democrats passed up a chance to force Republicans to vote on helping average Americans.

By not pushing this debate, Democrats deprive themselves of a defining campaign issue. Also, voters will have to wait to see whether those howling about the national debt are willing to do anything to trim it.

Bush-era tax cuts expire at the end of this year unless Congress renews them. The Democrats shouldn't miss this chance to see whether Republicans would let the middle-class tax cuts expire if they don't get a deal protecting the wealthiest as well.

(We're not talking about soaking the top 2 percent, just taxing them at the same rate as during the Clinton years when the economy boomed and the government ran a surplus.)

Meanwhile, Republicans, who hold 41 of the 100 seats in the Senate, were taking advantage of their clout under Senate rules last week. They used the grand ol' filibuster to preserve the repugnant ban on gays serving in the military and to defeat the DREAM Act, which would give immigrants brought to the U.S. as children a path to citizenship through education, good behavior and military service.

Such blatant unfairness by Republicans should rally Democratic voters — if the Democratic leaders would come out from their foxholes long enough to wave a banner to rally 'round.

The Republicans also stopped another Obama initiative that would require disclosure of who's paying for campaign advertising.

(Note to visitors: When viewing political commercials on U.S. television, assume that everything is a lie and/or oversimplified to the point of idiocy. Also, marvel that Americans fall for this putrid propaganda.)

The disclosure requirement is necessary because of a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court to renounce a 100-year-old doctrine and open spigots of corporate cash into U.S. elections. The court's majority worried that corporations were being unconstitutionally constrained from getting their message out.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Democrats were simply trying to gain an advantage in this year's elections.

But even when Democrats offered to delay the disclosure requirement until after the election, Republicans wouldn't budge.

So, there you have it in a nutshell: Republicans, riding a tide of corporate cash and public anger, are counting on voters to have such short memories they'll bring back the disastrous policies of the Bush years.

And Democrats, who hold the White House and large majorities in both chambers of Congress, are too fumbling and afraid to call the Republicans out.

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