Billionaire George Soros and Sen. Hillary Clinton have been talking about the congressional elections as if they were a civics test for voters. They could almost be speaking from the same lecture notes.
"I think it's very important, actually, to re-establish checks and balances for the Democrats to capture at least one of the houses (of Congress)," Soros told Fox News.
"It's better for New York and it's better for America if we get a Democratic majority back in to restore checks and balances and to prevent this president and vice president from taking such radical positions," Clinton told the Toledo Blade.
But the real question isn't whether Congress should check and balance the president, it is when and how they should do it.
Congressional Democrats have a perverse record here. They've enabled Bush's bad policies and resisted his good ones. Often, but not always, Republicans have done the opposite.
In sum: We don't need Congress to become more liberal to fix what's wrong with Bush, we need Bush to become more conservative to fix what's wrong with Congress.
In his first year, Bush cut taxes. Democrats tried to stop him. Meanwhile, not one House Republican voted against Bush's tax cuts, and only two Senate Republicans (John McCain of Arizona and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island) did.
A Democrat Congress would not have enacted the Bush tax cuts. Check one against the Democrats.
Also in his first year, Bush pushed through the No Child Left Behind Act, dramatically increasing federal involvement in public schools. Without significant Democratic support, this bill would have failed. More Democrats voted for it (198) than Republicans (183). Then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, the Texas Republican, voted against it. Sen. Ted Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat, sponsored it.
Federal education spending has more than doubled since then. Check two against the Democrats.
In his second year, Bush signed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, while conceding it raised "serious constitutional concerns." Initially, the bill had been stopped by House Republican leaders who refused to bring it up for a vote. It only passed after 198 Democrats joined with 20 Republicans to sign a "discharge petition," forcing a vote under House rules. Then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, the South Dakota Democrat, rammed the bill through a Democrat Senate.
Predictably, the liberal majority on the Supreme Court upheld the bill's restrictions on free speech. Check three against the Democrats.