Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Clinton's `Ready to Go' Payoff and the American Majority

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Clinton's `Ready to Go' Payoff and the American Majority

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON _ Bob Dole, the Republican leader in the Senate, chose Oregon's Mark Hatfield, a soft-spoken moderate, to talk to Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter about signing the filibuster letter.

Come April 30, it will be seen as a critical moment in the first hundred days of the Clinton administration. To stop the Democratic legislative locomotive, solidarity on the part of the Republican minority was vital, and Hatfield and Specter have long been mavericks.

The Pennsylvania senator listened to the argument against Clinton's bill to stimulate the economy by increasing the deficit by $19.5 billion in new federal spending. He asked to read the final draft of the letter, and signed on _ not as a party regular but as a senator profoundly offended by the steamroller tactics of the Democratic leadership.

Sen. Robert Byrd, the Appropriations chairman, had been eager to reassert his power after failing last year to move the CIA to his native West Virginia. Against Senate tradition, he used parliamentary tricks to make it impossible for any senator to amend the president's spending bill.

But the Senate was created to protect the minority against majority tyranny. That's why small states have the same two votes as large states and why it takes much more than a majority to cut off debate. Byrd, who burdens us all with taxpayer-subsidized books about Senate traditions, forgot about that respect for dissent and compromise in his zeal to ram through the whole Democratic "stimulus" without examination of each of its components.

The Republicans were driven into unaccustomed unity. As a result of the all-or-nothing demand of Bobby Byrd and the hubris of the Clinton White House, the addition to the deficit of billions in political payoffs to mayors who delivered for Democratic candidates is a dead duck.

Liberal media are apoplectic. "It is the rightful role of the minority to oppose and criticize," huffs a New York Times editorialist, "but not to paralyze." In other words, it's OK for the minority to complain, but to insist on a role in making national decisions _ why, that's causing the dreaded "gridlock."

Now we'll have a much-needed debate. …

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