Team Townhall has been all over this morning's distressing economic news, which makes for an ugly pairing with the latest figures on the health spending explosion under Obamacare. Brit Hume cuts to the core of the juxtaposition in less than 140 characters:
GDP growth slows to .1 % in first quarter as health spending spikes 9.9% in same period. Congressional Dems could hardly get worse news.— Brit Hume (@brithume) April 30, 2014
Not that things were going swimmingly for them to begin with. Anemic economic growth coupled with the largest quarterly spike in healthcare costs in 34 years is very bad news for the American people, and a full-blown political emergency for Democrats -- who own this "recovery," and who promised Obamacare would bend the health spending cost curve down. Time to fire up the distraction jalopy. In addition to their job-killing minimum wage push, Senate Democrats are proposing a number of measures that would scale back and chill political speech. Exhibit A:
Senate Democrats will schedule a vote this year on a constitutional amendment to reform campaign finance as they face tens of millions of dollars worth of attack ads from conservative groups. The Senate will vote on an amendment sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) that would overturn two recent court cases that have given corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals free rein to spend freely on federal races. “The Supreme Court is trying to take this country back to the days of the robber barons, allowing dark money to flood our elections. That needs to stop, and it needs to stop now,” said Senate Rules Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who announced the plan. “The only way to undo the damage the court has done is to pass Senator Udall’s amendment to the Constitution, and Senate Democrats are going to try to do that,” he said...The amendment has little chance of becoming a part of the Constitution anytime soon because Republicans generally support the high court’s decisions in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. FEC.
This is what "bereft of ideas" looks like. But as far as political theater goes, it ain't half bad. Dems know this thing has no chance of passing, but it gives them a chance to preen about money in politics and scratch their Kochsteria itch -- all while continuing to rake in huge money from loaded liberal donors. Sen. Mark Udall, who's introducing this quixotic amendment, has already benefited from television ads paid for by "out of state billionaires." He bucked public opinion in opposing the keystone pipeline to placate one of his political benefactors, environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer. At last report, the Left was running far ahead of the Right in the 2014 outside money race, but why complicate a solid victimhood narrative? "Robber barons and dark money!" Incidentally, Democrats' Koch Derangement Syndrome may be paying dividends among their top contributors, but it isn't breaking through to the American people. Average citizens may wonder why Democrats are focused so intently on limiting campaign contributions, rather than fixing the US economy and keeping their promises on Obamacare. But Senator Udall isn't the only man with his eye on the ball. Exhibit B:
U.S. Sen. Ed Markey wants to empower an obscure federal agency to begin scouring the Internet, TV and radio for speech it finds threatening — a plan met with jeers from defenders of the First Amendment. Here we add one more incredulous voice to the chorus. The “Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014” presents a frankly chilling proposition. The spookily-named National Telecommunications and Information Administration (what, you’ve never heard of it?) would be required to submit a report to Congress on “the use of telecommunications” “to advocate and encourage violent acts and the commission of crimes of hate.” Using its own judgment to determine what qualifies as impermissible speech, the new government hall monitors would then recommend steps for Congress to take that are “appropriate and necessary to address such use of telecommunications.” Now, those recs must be “consistent with the First Amendment,” the bill says — and Markey insists. But prosecutors already have the authority to prosecute threats.
I discussed this proposal with Megyn Kelly last night, wondering who gets to determine what counts as "hateful," and how this largely unknown federal agency would be held accountable if it abuses Markey's empty 'First Amendment' caveat:
John Hayward wins Twitter today with his snarky summary of Democrats' solutions to bleak economic realities:
Sure, Democrats have killed the US economy, but they'll fix the problem by making it harder for us to complain about it.— John Hayward (@Doc_0) April 30, 2014
The Left is extremely proficient at the blame game, but it looks as though one of their go-to favorites is losing its luster. In today's NBC/WSJ poll, the percentage of Americans blaming George W. Bush for the economy has finally dropped below a bare majority. Obama's approval rating on the issue is 42 percent. Nevertheless, I'd wager that "blame Bush!" and "let's amend the Constitution to pare back speech!" may both be stronger political arguments than this:
Good luck with that.
UPDATE - Click the links, and have yourself a gallows humor chuckle: