When Republican Scott Brown captured Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in Massachusetts, it released a political torrent that swept through the nation. In the past week or so, political pundits couldn't resist talking about it. And subsequently, ABC News reports that Democrat politicians "are dropping like flies" by not seeking re-election in their respective states.
The lesson is that no Congressional seat is secure as long as members of Congress continue to ignore their constituents. For instance, the voters asked for more transparency from their government, and they got a lot of closed-door meetings and sweetheart deals for unions. They asked for bi-partisan health care reform, and they got a purely partisan bill that intentionally excluded Republican ideas. And they asked for a stimulus package that would help the middle class, and they got a $410 billion Omnibus bill with more than 9,000 earmarks.
In sum, the Obama Administration spent more political capital than they had earned. And after tripling the national deficit in less than 12 months, a survey among economists now show that the $265 billion already spent on various projects created no new jobs. Some may ask how is this even possible. The answer is twofold. First, only a small fraction of the stimulus was spent last year. And second, the fraction spent did not appropriately target small businesses like it should have.
In the wake of Massachusetts election, some are now projecting that Feingold, among three other Wisconsin Democrats, are in danger of losing their seats this November. Feingold, however, swept the idea of losing under the rug by saying, "Wisconsin voters would not be swayed by what happens outside the state."
It's important to remember that the same Massachusetts voters that voted Scott Brown into office had voted for Obama by an 80% margin. According to the Washington Post, exit polls from Massachusetts showed that, out of those who voted for Scott Brown, 66% of them did so to send a message to Washington that they oppose the Democrat agenda - including the Democrat version of health care reform.
One particular problem with Feingold is that he's voted for every spending bill that's come across his pen. Wait, I take that back; he voted to cut spending on our military while they were fighting a war. But beside that one patriotic exception, he has been a faithful big spender, and big spenders are not the craze nowadays.
Feingold knows that spenders have fallen out of favor with the public, so lately he has been talking a lot about fiscal responsibility. When compared with his actual voting record, however, his rhetoric doesn't exactly match up. To compensate, Feingold has allied himself with a few liberal members of the Senate to oppose the appointment of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Why? Because it's easier to blame someone else.
Feingold is blaming Bernanke for "irresponsible financial activities", which in Feingold's mind, has created the recent recession. What evidence does Feingold have to justify his charge? Nothing.
The Obama Administration continues to support Bernanke and has characterized him as a man who saved us from another Great Depression. And although I think this might be a bit over the top, Bernanke's fiscal policies were economically sound.
Over-spending is just one problem for Feingold. Based strictly upon his voting record, Feingold has been rated the second most liberal Senator in the Senate, even out-doing self-described socialist Bernie Sanders. Despite his manufactured maverick facade, Feingold's voting record reflects a consistent pro-spending, anti-business, anti-military, anti-free trade, and anti-domestic security agenda that's often seen among the base of his party.
For instance, Feingold has consistently voted to obstruct the intelligence gathering networks of the FBI and CIA that's necessary to prevent large-scale terrorist attacks. In 2001, Feingold was the only Senator out of 100 to vote against the Patriot Act.
Is Feingold vulnerable to losing his Senate seat? Yes. Feingold's record on spending and domestic security will be harmful to his campaign this year. And more importantly, his unwavering support for an unpopular health care reform bill, in spite of widespread protestations by his constituents, will likely be his hemlock. In Massachusetts, voters sent a clear message to Washington that they didn't want their version health care reform. Perhaps it's time that Wisconsin sends the same message.