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   The winter of America's discontent

NEWS INFORMATION

Parent

Parent

News Date

2/5/2010 6:30 pm

Author

Tim Rutten

Media

Los Angeles Times

Category

Commentary

Database Record

Entered 2/6/2010, Updated 2/6/2010

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Description

It has been more than four decades since the Congress of the United States has been able to summon the will to pass a major piece of social legislation. Not since 1965, when Medicare and the Voting Rights Act both overcame decades of opposition to become law, has Congress proved itself up to the task. Significant healthcare reform is all but dead for this session, and the chances of substantively addressing the regulatory breakdown that allowed Wall Street's irresponsible speculation to precipitate the worst global financial crisis since the Depression seem to recede with each passing day. So too the prospects for passage of further stimulus measures to remedy the crisis of unemployment and underemployment that continues to ravage the lives of families in states from Michigan to California. In the face of these daunting issues, what was it that preoccupied the Senate on the eve of its long weekend recess? The legislative drama du jour is the standoff between the White House and Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), who has put a personal hold on more than 70 executive branch appointments until the Obama administration agrees to fund a couple of pork-barrel projects he has earmarked for his state. One involves tens of millions of dollars for an FBI laboratory focusing on improvised explosives -- something the bureau doesn't think it needs. The other involves contract specifications for an aerial tanker that Northrop Grumman and Airbus would manufacture in Alabama, if they win the deal. (Boeing also is competing for the plane, which it would build in Topeka, Kan., and Seattle.)


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