The shame of the Senate

The Democratic Senate is destroying the Democratic House and neutering the Democratic president.

There is one solution for Democrats to prevent an electoral disaster. They should cancel the August recess and take to the floor of the United States Senate to wage an all-out battle for small businesses and jobs.

Democrats must end their supine posture of surrender. Democrats must end their fantasy that they can win an election with events proclaiming a “recovery summer” that a majority of Americans do not believe.

Democrats must end the delusion that their base that has been so disrespected can be rallied with smooth talk of self-praise by party insiders.

The great debate among Democrats is between those of us who believe that a great party should battle for great principles and define itself through dramatic actions and noble deeds, versus those who believe that mediocre results achieved through insider deals with special interests can be sold like toothpaste and pizza.

Once the election is over, it is “Goodbye, base — hello, fundraisers.” Once the going gets tough, it is “Hello, recess — goodbye, jobless benefits.”

The result is the shame of the Senate, a moveable feast of failure when the obstruction that unites Republicans combines with the Kabuki dance of Democrats who make Potemkin fights followed by Potemkin surrenders sandwiched between fundraisers, gridlock and recesses.

Ronald Reagan had it right. Obama and Democrats should do what Reagan did so brilliantly. They should draft a major jobs bill, appeal to working-class voters, battle for small businesses and rally their base to contact Congress day after day to pass the bill.

I have suggested a Big Bang tax cut of $10,000 for small and medium-sized businesses that hire workers in the coming months, alongside emergency aid to state and local governments to prevent layoffs of teachers, firefighters and police. If others have better ideas, fine.

Democrats must draw a clear line in the sand and wage a clear fight to the finish that voters understand. Forget the promises, verbiage and self-praise. Only an existential battle in real time can restore the winning coalition for Democrats and activate the president’s grass roots into fighting shape now, through 2010, into 2012.

It was an outrage that senators enjoyed a long recess while jobless workers burned without benefits, and an outrage that some Republicans have began to slander the jobless with the lie that they would rather be jobless.

What is happening is the wholesale destruction of the Senate as an institution of government by Republicans and the wholesale surrender to these radical and destructive tactics by Democrats. This shame of the Senate must end.

Democrats should stop whimpering that they don’t have 60 votes, and start fighting for a jobs bill and asking voters to defeat Republicans who oppose creating more jobs for Americans by destroying majority rule in America.

Democrats should run against the “hope America fails” Republicans, who do not want jobs created before Election Day.

Democrats should wage this campaign with a battle of real policies, in real time, with real action, to create real jobs, and should mobilize millions of Americans to rise up with Democrats who are fighting for their real economic interest.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at