Al Franken, who used to be a comic and perhaps still is, has created a holiday solution to the Senate’s civility shortage—-a “Secret Santa” exchange of gifts between the opposing parties.
Just as in grade school, 21 Republicans and 37 Democrats have drawn names from a Santa hat and will present each other with gifts worth $10 or less in mid-December. That won’t violate lobbying laws, and there is something to be said for handing one another gift-wrapped packages instead of verbal hand grenades.
In their real (?) work, Congress is inching toward a gift for voters as Republicans reluctantly prepare to back a small part of the President’s jobs plan by agreeing to extend a payroll-tax cut of $265 billion but without any ho-ho-hos, as they insist that the measure, as well as any extension of unemployment benefits, be offset by spending cuts.
Chief Grinch John Boehner assures followers that such a gesture would not mean abandoning Congress’ overall approach:
“There’s going to be $1.2 trillion of further cuts to meet our commitment, and I think having the sequester in place to ensure that we’re going to get our spending problem under control is a good thing. But I would prefer, and I think all of our members would prefer, that we do this in a more responsible way.”
If they decide to do Secret Santa in the House, somebody should gift-wrap a lump of coal for the Speaker.
Meanwhile, the President is in Scranton, telling voters he is filled with Christmas spirit and wants put $1500 under every family tree, if Republicans get on the sleigh this week. Warm up the reindeer.