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The Colbert Democrats
As if this were not enough, Congress adjourned without even a vote -- nay, without even a Democratic bill -- on the expiring Bush tax cuts. This is the ultimate in incompetence. After 20 months of control of the White House and Congress -- during which they passed an elaborate, 1,000-page micromanagement of every detail of American health care -- the Democrats adjourned without being able to tell the country what its tax rates will be on Jan. 1.
It's not just income taxes. It's capital gains and dividends, too. And the estate tax, which will careen insanely from 0 to 55 percent when the ball drops on Times Square on New Year's Eve.
Nor is this harmless incompetence. To do this at a time when $2 trillion of capital is sitting on the sidelines because of rising uncertainty -- and there is no greater uncertainty than next year's tax rates -- is staggeringly irresponsible.
As if this display of unseriousness -- no budget, no appropriations bills, no tax bill -- were not enough, some genius on a House Judiciary subcommittee invites parodist Stephen Colbert to testify as an expert witness on immigration. He then pulls off a nervy mockery of the whole proceedings -- my favorite was his request to have his colonoscopy inserted in the Congressional Record -- while the chairwoman sits there clueless.
A fitting end for the 111th Congress. But not quite. Colbert will return to the scene of the crime on Oct. 30 as the leader of one of two mock rallies on the Mall. Comedian Jon Stewart leads the other. At a time of near-10 percent unemployment, a difficult and draining war abroad, and widespread disgust with government overreach and incompetence, they will light up the TV screens as the hip face of the new liberalism -- just three days before the election.
I suspect the electorate will declare itself not amused.
(Bookmark washingtonpost.com/politics for more insight on 2010 political campaigns.)