The Senate voted on December 24 to allow the federal government to borrow an additional $290 billion, thereby increasing the total federal debt from $12.1 trillion to about $12.4 trillion. The House had already approved the measure during the previous week.
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds," poet-philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in the 19th Century. Small minds, at least those belonging to the ruling class in Washington, D.C., have broadened considerably since then. Senate Republicans, for example, may often be foolish on the subjects of taxing and spending. But at least two dozen of the current crop of GOP Solons have insulated themselves against any suspicion of consistency.
The Senate Banking Committee convened Thursday morning, December 17, and voted 16-7 to confirm Ben Bernanke for a second four-year term as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.
The Senate on December 13 passed a mammoth omnibus spending bill variously described as costing $447 billion or $1.1 trillion, depending on whether "mandatory" spending for programs such as Medicare and Social Security were included in the tabulation. The Senate vote completed congressional action, sending the legislation to the President for his signature. Dozens of federal agencies received average budget increases of 10 percent.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) stated on December 11 that the federal government must borrow at least $1.8 trillion more in 2010 if the United States is to avoid defaulting on its debts. This would be over and above the current $12.1 trillion national debt limit.
Librarians are virtually united in opposing the renewal of the Patriot Act provisions that are set to expire this December 31, 2009. Thirty-two state chapters of the American Library Association (ALA) have passed resolutions calling for Congress to allow Section 215 of the act to expire.
Ben Bernanke appeared on December 3 before the Senate Banking Committee as part of the confirmation proceedings needed to approve a second four-year term as Federal Reserve chairman. He found some strong opposition and some fawning support among the Senators.
The latest (December 7) issue of The New American includes our second congressional scorecard on the 111th Congress. The scorecard, entitled “The Freedom Index: A Congressional Scorecard Based on the U.S. Constitution,” rates Congressmen based on their adherence to constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements.
Led by the Democratic majority, the U.S. Senate on November 19 confirmed President Barack Obama’s long-stalled first judicial nominee. By a vote of 59-39, the Senate approved Obama’s choice of U.S. District Judge David Hamliton for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in Chicago.