The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Sunday, March 13, 2005  

For Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee

It’s truly something to read the weekly feature in Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, “Area Votes in Congress,” and learn how poorly represented are Pennsylvanians in the U.S. Senate by Republicans Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum.

Here’s this week’s run down:

Bankruptcy. Senators passed, 74-25, and sent to the House a bill (S 256) making it difficult for those with means to use bankruptcy to shirk their debt. Under the bill, most debtors making more than the median income for their state would be required to file under Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code, which entails substantial payment of unsecured debt, rather than Chapter 7, which requires little or no repayment. A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Santorum and Specter.

Minimum wage. Senators defeated, 49-46, a Democratic amendment to S 256, above, that would have raised the minimum hourly wage from $5.15 to $7.25 over 26 months. A yes vote backed the minimum-wage increase.

Voting no: Santorum.

Not voting: Specter.

Alternate wage plan. Senators rejected, 61-38, a Republican plan to raise the minimum hourly wage from $5.15 to $6.25 over 18 months, while reducing the number of businesses required to pay it. A yes vote backed the GOP wage amendment.

Voting yes: Santorum and Specter.

Alimony, child support. Senators rejected, 58-41, a proposal to provide special protection in S 256, above, for debtors whose financial predicament results from failure to receive alimony and/or child support. A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting no: Santorum and Specter.

Credit card fees. Senators refused, 61-38, to prevent credit-card issuers from continuing to charge late-payment fees to consumers who enter credit counseling and adopt a plan for debt payment. The vote occurred during debate on S 256, above. A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting no: Santorum and Specter.

Conflicts of interest. Senators defeated, 55-44, an effort to retain a ban now in the law to keep investment banks from both underwriting a company's securities and then getting involved in bankruptcy proceedings if the company goes under. A yes vote was to retain the ban as part of S 256, above.

Voting yes: Specter.

Voting no: Santorum.

I suppose the senators’ differing positions on that last measure reveals there is a dime’s worth of difference between Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.

In addition to those cherished nicknames, why not let’s start calling Sen. Santorum and Sen. Specter Senator Gets It Wrong Every Time and Senator Gets It Wrong Almost Every Time.

And I again express my outrage at the strident and thoughtless single-issue interest groups who helped to foster the return of Sen. Specter to the chamber. Things could have been so much better for everyone.

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