Welcome to your Newt Congress

What kind of mischief can we expect from this bunch? Here are a few of our nightmares.

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You’ve got to be kidding. Spiritual renewal from this crowd? And their economic promises–increased military spending, balanced budget amendment, sweeping tax cuts, etc.–won’t wash. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why. Just look at the guys who are leading the way:

Al D’Amato (R-N.Y.)

Chair, Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Arguably the most corrupt politician in America. Linked to a stupefying number of shady deals, from HUD scandals (multimillion-dollar contracts went to campaign contributors) to mail fraud (his brother lobbied the Navy for a contract using Al’s Senate stationery). Reputed to be the power behind new New York Gov. George Pataki’s throne. Known for his bloodthirsty inquisition into Whitewater.

Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)

Chair, Senate Judiciary. A Mormon lay minister with a reputation for politeness; nonetheless, called Democrats the “party of homosexuals.” Against: busing, abortion rights, affirmative action. For: school prayer, balanced budget amendment. Investigated in 1993 for trying to help business associate get loan from BCCI (defended bank to Senate in same year; no conviction). Skewered Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas hearings.

Bob Dole (R-Kan.)

Senate Majority Leader. A.k.a. Mr. Gridlock: blocked Clinton’s jobs bill, the campaign finance overhaul bill, lifting ban on gays in the military, and national health care. Led the charge to demand a special prosecutor for Whitewater, yet only a year earlier, under Bush, filibustered to kill the special prosecutor law. One of the meanest monkeys on Clinton’s back, but more moderate than Newt. With 1996’s presidential race looming, his every move will likely double as campaign strategy.

Bob Packwood (R-Ore.)

Chair, Senate Finance. Except for being accused of pawing, groping, and smooching 23 women between 1969 and 1990, basically a moderate guy. The GOP forgave him for his trespasses (and for making them read his sordid diaries) because he helped squash Clinton’s health care plan.

Dick Armey (R-Texas)

House Majority Leader. Ph.D. in economics; renowned for confrontational, partisan style. Referred to Clinton as “your president” when talking to House Democrats. Called the Clinton health plan “a Dr. Kevorkian prescription” and helped kill it. Fought to limit public funding of the arts. Voted against the Family Leave Act, deficit reduction, the stimulus plan, cutting military spending, a 7-day waiting period for handguns, and middle-class tax cuts.

Jesse Helms (R-N.C.)

Chair, Senate Foreign Relations. Championed racial segregation for much of his 22-year public career; opposes busing, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, AIDS funding, and abortion. After trailing a black challenger in 1990, switched to a racial campaign using “quota” scare ads–and won. Best known for opposition to NEA funding for controversial artists–notably Robert Mapplethorpe. Typically proposes legislation more to embarrass the opposition than to pass effective laws.

Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.)

Speaker of the House. Routinely violates moral codes he espouses. Two years after winning on a “family values” platform, dictated divorce terms as his wife lay in the hospital recuperating from a cancer operation. Involved in shady book deal even as he ousted then-Speaker Jim Wright for same. Called Clinton the “enemy of normal Americans,” and threatened to shut down the presidency with a slew of ethics investigations. Oh, but wants to abolish House Ethics Committee.

Bill Archer (R-Texas)

Chair, House Ways and Means. One of the most conservative voters in Congress. As head of the committee responsible for the nation’s tax laws, he wants to get rid of the federal income tax and cut the capital gains tax on the wealthy. His post also positions him to scuttle sweeping health care reform. “Universal coverage is a myth,” Archer says. “It’s a code word for socialized medicine, and I will not embrace socialized medicine.”

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