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Pass even one of 13 appropriations bills necessary if the federal government was to be up and running in 2011, before heading home for the remainder of the campaign season — on Sept. 30, the day the just-concluded fiscal year came to an end?

The Democratic Congress sure didn’t want to do that. Why, resurgent Republicans might brand them “big spenders”!

Vote to extend the Bush tax cuts for all Americans, due to expire in only a few months, thus dispelling some measure of Americans’ uncertainty about their economic future?

Couldn’t do that — the tiny 10 percent minority of “wealthy” taxpayers who already pay more than 70 percent of the nation’s income taxes must be punished, made to pay more, more, no matter how many more jobs it drives overseas!

Vote instead to extend the Bush tax cuts for most Americans, while hiking taxes only on “rich” business owners and investors, further crippling the economy?

The Democratic plan had been to hold just such a vote, setting up Republicans for condemnation for their predictable “nay” votes, claiming they were “blocking tax cuts for the middle class in order to protect the rich.”

But Democrats in suddenly close re-election races didn’t want to be called “tax hikers” all through October, so Harry Reid and his congressional Democrats couldn’t even do that.

But never fear. The Reid-Pelosi Congress did manage to consider the Crane Conservation Act, the Shark Conservation Act and the Southern Sea Otter Recovery and Research Act in the final hours before its October recess, and to actually vote on one matter vital to the future of the republic — making it illegal for TV stations to boost the volume when the commercials come on.

The Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday to require television stations and cable companies to keep commercials at the same volume as the programs they interrupt.

After all, “TV viewers should be able to watch their favorite programs without fear of losing their hearing when the show goes to a commercial,” proclaims Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a co-sponsor.

Which would all be very nice — if the nation weren’t facing some slightly larger problems.

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