With the midterm elections just behind us, Americans might think they can finally stop worrying about politics for a while. Not so fast! Now is when they need to be more vigilant than ever.
Although dozens of politicians were replaced with fresh faces on Election Day, the losers don’t have to vacate their offices for two months. That means they can keep on voting in a “lame duck” session of Congress.
While “lame duck” is the standard parlance in D.C., I prefer the more colorful term “Zombie Congress,” popularized in recent years by George Will and others. It more aptly conveys the peril of the situation. Zombie legislators are those unhappy senators and representatives who have been voted out of office, yet still stagger dutifully back to Washington for a month or so before Christmas break. ‘Tis the season when they are most dangerous.
Unlike their B-movie counterparts, these zombies don’t seek brains, though they could probably use some. With no electorate to appease, the newly politically “deceased” members have no incentive to restrain their more base urges to feast upon the hard-earned tax dollars of the living.
Unfortunately, lame duck sessions have become more common in recent years and have been used to rush through liberal policies while most Americans are focused on the holidays. Obamacare was rammed through the Senate on Christmas Eve in 2009. Other lame ducks were used to pass bailouts, debt limit increases, big spending bills, special-interest tax breaks and even an ill-advised arms treaty with Russia.
Lame duck lawmakers could use this year’s post-election session to push through a costly omnibus spending bill … with total impunity. Those who want to further burden Americans by taxing their Internet purchases also are contemplating the chance to ram through the misleadingly titled “Marketplace Fairness Act.” The “fairness” here means you send more money to the government!
It’s not just a matter of electoral death and taxes, either. All sorts of controversial issues and massive bills could be brought up when We the People think it’s safe to turn our attention away from Washington and enjoy family, fall and football. Harry Reid has been clear in his desire to preserve corporate welfare for big “green” energy companies by tying it to good “must pass” tax provisions, instead of waiting until next year to consider them separately.
In the past two lame duck sessions of Congress, ill-advised treaties have arisen, such as the United Nations Disabilities Treaty, which violates American sovereignty in helping its citizens who need care. If the disability treaty rises from the dead this session, it would impose foreign educational and social agendas upon our country regardless of the will of the people.
Not all hazards arise from the legislative branch: President Obama has threatened to implement additional unilateral amnesty for illegal immigrants after the election. He already has “lit the beacon” of amnesty for further incoming waves under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and has hinted at expanding it to millions more who have entered the country illegally. A Congress where the balance of power is determined by folks with nothing to lose lacks incentive to stand up to the president’s executive overreach or work with him for a sane alternative to the border crisis.
Tackling these challenges will take time, deliberation and, most importantly, a legislative body which actually represents Americans and has a stake in the outcome. That’s not the kind of body you have in a Zombie Congress.
As of last night, the nation has spoken, giving a new generation of leaders the mandate to govern on popular conservative priorities such as school choice, increased energy production and more jobs. But the losers could still affect national policy even after the voters have made their wishes clear.
Harry Reid and John Boehner should insist the zombies shuffle homeward without hurting the country and begin the transition to real life as soon as possible. Americans don’t need divisive, expensive legislation forced on them in a lame duck session by senators and representatives they’ve already fired. We have big challenges to face as a nation, and we’ll face them best with a Congress that better reflects the will of the people. And it can all wait until January!