They may call it “delay,” but they mean “eliminate” – and the Washington Post is happy to assist with putting this story on the seventh page.
Jarred by a cool reception from the White House and fears of unintended consequences across the financial world, Senate leaders are likely to delay until late next month legislation to punitively tax bonuses at banks and investment firms that receive federal aid.
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) announced last week that the Senate would move ahead with the legislation as soon as possible, and he attempted to bring the bill to the floor Thursday night. But he revised that timetable yesterday, saying that the chamber will spend this week debating a national-service bill before turning to a long-scheduled showdown over the budget for fiscal 2010. With just two weeks to go until Congress departs for a spring recess, action on the tax measure would be unlikely before late April.
That will effectively kill the bill, because everyone in Washington is betting that a month should be enough time for the populace to have something else besides the Democrat-inspired and Democrat-encouraged AIG bonus PR fiasco to focus upon; which is not a bad bet, actually. Already people are starting to notice that the Democrats’ House bill has a good deal of faux-populist outrage associated with it; and as Glenn Reynolds over in Forbes is pointing out, the Democrats are going to be soon having to hit up the very people that they’re currently demonizing for campaign contributions. Time to let this story die, and that’s why there’s a Senate in the first place.
No, actually, it is. The US Senate website has a story about the Founding Fathers:
An oft-quoted story about the “coolness” of the Senate involves George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who was in France during the Constitutional Convention. Upon his return, Jefferson visited Washington and asked why the Convention delegates had created a Senate. “Why did you pour that coffee into your saucer?” asked Washington. “To cool it,” said Jefferson. “Even so,” responded Washington, “we pour legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it.”
…which makes this move to disappear the AIG bonus fiasco the rarest of Washington, DC events: something being done in accordance with the original intent of the Constitution. It was actually expected that the House of Representatives could be easily stampeded into making bad decisions like these, so the Senate was put into place to give legislators a chance to avoid truly stupid decisions. Such as the Democrats’ decision to first explicitly permit bonuses to AIG, then explicitly try to confiscate them*. The rest of the government will go along with this, particularly the executive branch:
Obama expressed similar reservations in a portion of the “60 Minutes” interview that was not broadcast. “We’re going to take a look at this legislation, and I’m going to do so with two principles in mind. Number one, we’ve got to make sure that people aren’t rewarded for failure with taxpayer money,” he said. “Number two, we’ve got to keep our eye on the big picture and the fact that we’ve got to get our banking system lending again.”
Obama’s statement contrasted with the outrage he expressed early last week when he vowed to “pursue every legal avenue to block these bonuses.” White House officials said the president is waiting to see what emerges from Congress before deciding whether to sign the measure into law.
Anyone who is surprised at any of the contradictions and quiet reversals highlighted in the two paragraphs above is almost certainly not paying enough attention to the way that Washington, DC operates.
*If you’re wondering why I keep saying “Democrats” when half the House GOP caucus voted for the second half of this, it’s because I fully intend to have my cake and eat it, too. Here’s the fun part: I can, and I will. No Republican in the House is associated with the first boneheaded move, so it’s perfectly intellectually coherent for our members now to say either “I just couldn’t stand the thought of letting them profit from our misery” or “It was a struggle not to let my righteous indignation take over my judgment.” Virtually all of the Democrats involved don’t have that option.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.