The SanityPrompt

This blog represents some small and occasional efforts to add a note of sanity to discussions of politics and policy. This blog best viewed with Internet Explorer @ 1024x768

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Chazer Caucus - The Chazer Caucus:

Jonathon Tasini has a most excellent post on the future of the estate tax.

"We have a new caucus on Capitol Hill: the chazer caucus. For those of you who might not be hip, chazer is the Yiddish word for pig. As in, "Gee, that person has so much [fill in the blank], to grab for more is just being a chazer ."

Here's the cogent political analysis to focus on. It boggles the mind.

The Republicans will probably hold all 55 of their chazer caucus supporters in line by simply demanding party loyalty, though there are some attempts being made to lean on John McCain, George Voinovich (Ohio), Lincoln Chafee (Rhode Island), Susan Collins (Maine), and Olympia Snowe (Maine) to buck Majority leader Bill Frist by arguing the fiscal insanity of letting millionaires get away with more money from the U.S. Treasury at a time of record deficits.
It’s pretty certain that the Republicans also have three Democrats: Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas) and the Nelson boys. Bill Nelson (Forida) signed on as a co-sponsor of Sen. Jon Kyl’s repeal bill; Lincoln has long been for full repeal and her pet policy is unlimited exemptions for farms and business, which is awful tax policy. Ben Nelson (Nebraska) gives as his excuse that he has a tough re-election next year—but he’s been off the reservation for a long time. So Frist already has 58 votes to end debate and crush a filibuster—just two votes shy.
The other Democrats who apparently are most ripe to topple are: California’s Dianne Feinstein, who is personally rich, so I guess this is her looking after her heirs; Mark Pryor, who sees this as a way to suck up to his home-state Arkansas Wal-Mart heirs; Evan Bayh, who has to court financial contributors for his presidential run; and Mary Landrieu, who won a close re-election in Louisiana thanks to the low-income black voters who will take the biggest hit from the repeal. By the way, Landrieu, Bayh and Pryor all voted for the bankruptcy bill earlier this year—yet another bill that hurt average working families but helps the well-connected and powerful (in this case, the credit card industry).

What’s striking to me is the complete inability of the Democratic side (read: Harry Reid) to demand party loyalty on this crucial issue and call for a solid vote against the repeal and for sustaining the filibuster. And if morality isn’t enough of an argument, those considering joining the chazer caucus can seek solace in the public polls showing a majority of people against full repeal.

Well put. The real thing to think about here is why the Party can't maintain Party discipline on something that shouldn't even be up for discussion in our ranks. I can see a debate over globalization. I can see a debate over John Roberts nomination. I can see a debate over Iraq. But a debate among Democrats over this? Consider this parting shot by Tasini:

U.S. Action did an amazing chart, which shows us this: If the repeal passed, the $45 billion going back to the richest people in the country could provide health insurance for more than 22 million children. So there’s the choice: more money for rich people or health coverage for children. To all the masses of people of faith, including those sanctimonious chazer caucus senators like Rick Santorum and Bill First, I ask: Wonder what Jesus would say on that?


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