This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, November 7, 2014:
Criticisms of Harry Reid fill one-and-a-half pages of his own Wikipedia entry. Imagine how many others he failed to mention. He earmarked funds to build a bridge close to land that he owned while calling it “incredibly good news for Nevada.” He failed to note that it was also incredibly profitable for himself.
He used campaign funds to buy Christmas gifts for the staff at the condominium where he lives. He pressured regulatory agencies to promote the business interests of one of his business partners, Harvey Whittemore, who also just happened to be a major campaign contributor.
And so on.
His final infliction on the American people is likely to take place over the next couple of months
while he still retains the title of Senate Majority Leader. The term “lame duck” has been defined as those politicians “in the peculiar position of not facing the consequences of their actions in a subsequent election, giving them greater freedom to issue unpopular decisions or appointments.” Such a designation dates back to the Judiciary Act of 1801 – called the Midnight Judges Act – in which President John Adams and the outgoing 6th Congress amended the Act to create more federal judge positions for Adams to appoint and for the Senate to confirm before Thomas Jefferson took over as President.
Reid will have plenty of opportunity to inflict further damage on the American republic. He’ll be limited only by time.
He has ignored pleas and demands from Constitutionalists such as Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, who wrote to Reid in September in anticipation of significant Republican gains in Tuesday’s election. They presumed that the temptation to ride roughshod over the Constitution and attempt to pass legislation that wouldn’t survive the light of day during normal working hours would be overwhelming to Reid:
Presumably, a lame duck session would be used [by you] to try to pass partisan, unpopular bills in November or December that might be indefensible before the … election….
Deliberately planning to reconvene the Senate in a lame-duck session to address major new legislation would subvert the will of the American people, lessen accountability, and do lasting damage to the dignity and integrity of this body’s proceedings.
With his voting record – Reid scores a dismal 17 out of 100 on the Freedom Index – Reid perfectly matches libertarian economist Donald Boudreaux’s definition of a typical politician:
It is the rare politician, of whatever party, who reliably puts principle above personal interest. As a rule, politicians are untrustworthy, duplicitous, and cowardly; they are people who have the unusually powerful craving for power and fame; and the successful among them typically possess an unusual talent for camouflaging their craving for power and fame as a saintly calling to “serve the people.”
His opportunities for mischief are vast. First, there are the dozens of political appointments made by President Obama that Reid has been saving for just such a time as this. The most dangerous would be the appointment of Attorney General Eric Holder’s replacement whom Obama is about to announce. There is the continuing resolution to continue paying the government’s bills after the first of the year – a temptation for pork that is overwhelming to politicians of Reid’s ilk – along with those “tax extenders” that die on December 31 unless extended once again. There’s the internet tax bill to consider, the ISIS crisis to contend with, the Ebola scare (something must be done!), and so forth.
The one issue Reid doesn’t have to worry about is immigration, as his president is about to relieve him of any responsibility there. On Wednesday, the day after the election, Reid’s president said:
Before the end of the year, we’re going to take whatever lawful actions that I can take, that I believe will improve the functioning of our immigration system….
What I’m not going to do is just wait.
Obama could use either an executive order or a “policy directive” to do an end run around Congress. In the 114th Congress about to be seated in January, such a bald threat isn’t likely to be well-received and might even be vacated. That happened back when then-President George H. W. Bush issued an executive order about fetal tissue research. The Senate simply directed that “the provisions of [the EO] shall not have any legal effect.” It would be as simple as that.
But Reid is in charge in the 113th Congress, one of the most compliant in history, and one of the least concerned about such Constitutional niceties.
When one adds disappointment over the election results to the desire for revenge, the brew that results is toxic indeed and potentially damaging to the republic.
There is one bright side, however. Since the lame duck session is so short, it is possible that discussions and debates over the continuing resolution bill to fund the government into next year could become so rancorous and distracting that Reid would simply run out of time to work his will with the rest of his agenda.
The Fiscal Times: Lame Duck Congress Could Be One Ugly Fight After Another
Jim DeMint: Return of the Zombie Congress
Donald Boudreaux: No Miracle Has Occurred. No Miracle Will Occur
Politico: Ted Cruz takes hard line on CR