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Here is a glimpse into political horse trading:

Kerry and Lieberman were desperate to accommodate Graham’s every request. The dynamics within the group changed. Aides marvelled at how Kerry and Lieberman would walk down the hallway with their arms around each other, while Lieberman and Graham’s relationship was tested by Graham’s escalating demands. The day after the White House meeting, the three senators and their aides gathered to discuss the status of the bill.
After the Fox News leak, a rumor had circulated that Congress wouldn’t pass a highway bill because of the Lindsey Graham gas-tax hike; Graham had to appease truckers in South Carolina. Now he insisted on eight billion dollars for the Highway Trust Fund, saying it was his price for staying. Frangione, Kerry’s aide, was “heartbroken,” a colleague said. It was an enormous amount of money within the confines of the bill, and spending anything on highways increased greenhouse-gas emissions. “Senator, please, just give me five minutes,” Rosengarten told Graham. “I’ll find your eight billion!” She and another Lieberman aide retrieved a spreadsheet they used to track all the spending and revenues in the bill. They fiddled with some numbers and—presto!—Graham had his money. (Later that day, Lieberman figured that, if they were going to spend eight billion dollars on highways, he might as well get some credit, too. He called the American Trucking Association to tell its officials the good news. They responded that they wanted twice that amount.)
That was in an old New Yorker piece on the failed Climate Change legislation from last week. It should be obvious that you will not see any serious movement on Climate policy any time soon. It should also be obvious that politicians treat taxpayers and voters with far less respect than migrant travelers treat public restrooms.
Here’s another couple of doozies that stand out for me:
At 10 p.m. the next day, Rimkunas sent Rosengarten an e-mail. They had worked together for seven months on the bill. Rosengarten had postponed her honeymoon—twice—to finish the project. They had travelled to Copenhagen together for the international climate conference and often teamed up to oppose Kerry’s office during internal debates. “Sorry buddy” is all the e-mail said. It was devastating. “Matt’s e-mail was a life low point,” she said. “It was actually soul-crushing.” (wintercow emphasis added)
Rosengarten got the message on her BlackBerry while she was on the phone with Pickens’s policy people, who had no idea about the unfolding drama and wanted to make sure that their natural-gas goodies had survived the final draft of the bill. K.G.L., perhaps the last best chance to deal with global warming in the Obama era, was officially dead. As she read Graham’s definitive goodbye letter, tears streamed down her face.
Now I’m a very emotional guy, so I am not disparaging that at all. But to have one’s soul crushed and to have tears pouring down one’s face at the failure of a piece of bad legislation? It would have done nothing to help the climate. It would have cost a good deal. It would have continued to fray already weak political bonds between Congress and Americans. Maybe if it was actually a good piece of legislation I would understand the emotion. And perhaps it is not my place to say it, but it is disconcerting to live in a world where people seem to have their soul’s crushed by what happens behind the sleazy closed doors of the political arena. I thought having your longtime girlfriend leave you for another man (correctly perhaps) was reason for some soul crushing. Having a health tragedy befall a loved one is soul crushing? Not being able to pass a useless and politically favored climate change bill? We use hyperbole all the time, but in this case it seems inappropriate. And that for many people to have their happiness ebb and flow with the political process is scary. It’s not like politics is just a pastime like a game or a hobby. The political process is one where some people make decisions to use force against lots, and in the process get to move around massive amounts of other people’s money. The process ought to be treated as reverently as any adoring Catholic would treat a statue of the virgin mother. But to be crushed when “finding” $8 billion for you in some spreadsheet summarizing all of the back-room deals isn’t enough to get the thugs to act again is not even in the same universe.
Remind me again why I should have any respect for the process or people in politics?

One Response to “I’ll Find YOUR $8 Billion”

  1. Harry says:

    Cheer up, Wintercow. All is not lost, yet.

    Not long ago $8 billion was significant money, enough to get our senatorial princes excited about disgorging it from profitable companies.

    There is hope and change coming, Wintercow. Not a whole lot for New York state or city, but at least they are taking DNA samples from the boys in Troy.

    Just because the Bills and Joe Paterno are having a bad year does not mean the Niagra River will dry up.

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