Thursday, August 2, 2007

Calling the Kettle Black

In looking for a floor speech on the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) expansion, I found that Representative Scott Garrett once again was without substantive comment. Before Garrett voted to continue raiding the Medicare trust fund to subsidize insurance companies and cut Medicare payments to doctor's 10%, he did give a soundbite to Herb Jackson of the Record, but no Floor speech.

Despite the fact we once again have to wait to see if Garrett submitted a written essay to the House Clerk instead of giving a speech, I did find this minute long speech he gave yesterday.
Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. America, your freedom of speech was trampled on yesterday. This new Democratic leadership quashed any semblance of free speech here on this House floor. This is not just a procedural matter, mind you. This is a matter for all Americans.

You see, each Member of Congress represents 600,000 constituents. That is 600,000 American voices that were quashed yesterday. As I say, this is not just a Republican issue, for their voices were quashed, but so were Democrat and Independent voices as well.

But in fact, this is nothing new for the new Democrat leadership. Just a week ago we had to come to this floor to make sure we could fight to keep the radio waves and the media opening dealing with the Fairness Doctrine. Prior to this, we had to fight to make sure that the centuries-old tradition of bipartisanship would not be broken. Prior to that, we had to fight to make sure that there would be transparency in earmarks, and all the Republicans fought on the side of openness and freedom of speech.

The Democrats say they tolerate all diversity, but apparently diversity not of thought and speech.
Garrett really does go out of his way to make a hypocrite out of himself sometimes. This from the man who attacked a member of his own party for not following in lockstep. This from the man who came to Washington during the Tom DeLay authoritarian era, and followed along faithfully enough to have a voting record more conservative than 97% of his colleagues.

Also, one cannot forget Garrett praised the President for not reaching out to Democrats and Independents during the State of the Union; even though Independents outnumber members of both parties in our District combined.

Where was this criticism when the Republicans maintained a majority of the majority rule to bring forward a bill? Where was this criticism when committee chairmanships were no longer doled out based on seniority, but instead whether you kowtowed the party line? The sad reality is that the Republicans did more to destroy the centuries-old tradition of bi-partisanship than anyone could have imagined; but you didn't see Garrett standing on the floor defending the right of the Democrats to be heard.

It's unfortunate the House Democrats limited debate on SCHIP, as once again they don't have a bill that can withstand a veto. The Senate version is bi-partisan in nature and has much broader support (the AMA, AARP, and the Insurance Industry). In all likelihood the final bill sent to the President will more closely resemble that one.

In the meantime, Garrett has once again slammed the Democrats for mildly repeating the sins of the Republicans over the last six years. I'm not sure if it's institutional amnesia or not, or if Garrett just likes to call the kettle black.

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