Sunday, July 31, 2011

Congress Is Not Helping Our Country, At All

Remember when Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said that his most important goal was to make Barack Obama a one-term president. I remember being appalled and heartsick for the country. Was he not at all concerned about his fellow citizens who had lost jobs and homes? No, apparently and transparently not. Jobs? Just not a important enough topic for discussion. Not a real problem to make right.
McConnell's topic for discussion on the Senate floor? Maryann Tobin reports in Political Spin Examiner on July 21, 2011 that McConnell said, "The Constitution must be amended to keep the government in check. We've tried persuasion. We've tried negotiation. We've tried elections Nothing has worked."
Does this sound good to you? Here's a paragraph or two from Norman Ornstein's July 19, 2011 article for Foreign Policy titled "Worst. Congress. Ever.". He speaks again about McConnell's goal.
"But any expectation that bipartisan cooperation and compromise under divided government were going to be a prominent feature of the 112th Congress were soon dispelled when Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in an October 2010 interview that "single most important thing" he needed to achieve was making Obama a one-term president, as pure an expression of the permanent campaign as one could find. McConnell elaborated in an interview with the Atlantic, in which he explained why his Senate Republicans pursued a conscious policy of uniform opposition in Obama's first two years: "We worked very hard to keep our fingerprints off of these proposals, because we thought -- correctly, I think -- that the only way the American people would know that a great debate was going on was if the measures were not bipartisan."
Ornstein continues, "That approach -- including a concerted effort to repeal or at least hamstring the implementation of Obama's main policy achievements of the 111th Congress-- was ramped up after the midterms. Republicans in the lame-duck session blocked the passage of any appropriations bills for the remainder of the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, 2010, and put the spending measures into an omnibus package, called a continuing resolution, on a short leash. That led to an early and prolonged standoff over spending levels for that year. Many House Republicans demanded on the floor or in the press that there be no compromise with the president."
Imagine. New Republican members of Congress want no part in any legislation that might help millions of folks who live in this country, because they came to Congress for other reasons. They arrived to make this administration totally ineffective because they believe this country is going down the wrong path and they will have none of it. They are not funding anything. They wish to cut everything. Like programs that help the country run smoothly. Like the Federal Aviation Agency.

Republicans appear to be purposefully hampering passage of spending bills. Witness what is already happening at the Federation Aviation Agency, now partially shut down because Congress cannot compromise, thus passing the agency's $16 billion funding bill. At this moment, our country has a basic bare bones air traffic control system. That is it. Thousands of workers are furloughed. Infrastructure projects crucial for air travel have been tabled.

Is this good for our country? For jobs, for growth, for being prepared with the right infrastructure for air transportation? CBS News reported that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood urged Congress to solve their dispute, "And for all of my friends on Capitol Hill who give speeches every day about jobs, the importance of jobs, putting people to work - this is not the time to be laying off 70,000 construction workers."

How long has Congress been squabbling over the FAA's budget? Since April 1, 2011.AviationWeek gives details. The House passed its version of the FAA reauthorization bill (H.R.658). The Senate has its version. But there has been no compromise worked out between the bills. The new House Republicans do not compromise. Ever. They are in Washington to see that money is not spent and the the Obama administration is not effective.

Back to Ornstein's article "Worst. Congress. Ever."
"House Republicans are adamant about refusing to compromise with the president, and are able in most instances to make good on the threat. When they are not able to maintain this unity, they are simply unwilling to bring up or pass measures that would lose significant GOP votes and require as many or more Democrats in support. This is a formula for gridlock, or worse. The Republicans are simply declining to govern."

Declining to govern? In order to make their point? I say, how can so few affect so many? Adversely and without a shred of compassion? There are millions of U.S. citizens without jobs or even hopes for employment, millions more of the poor and infirm for whom most members of Congress have no regard, millions of illegal immigrants who continue to see their life pass by without hope that Congress will address immigration legislative issues. Then, there is our country's next generation. They may begin school in September with greatly increased class sizes and nothing but the basics. I hear some school districts will begin to charge fees to be on a sports team. And school libraries? Art classes? No more. Been cut. These kids are our country's future. Who cares?

Ornstein concludes his article without much hope for this future of ours. He writes, "The Framers saw deliberation, institutional loyalty, and compromise as the only way to produce sensible and legitimate policy decisions in an extended republic. Many Republicans, especially former office holders, understand this. Many of the party's current members surely would prefer to solve problems, if the culture and atmosphere -- and the primary process that gives inordinate power to both parties' ideological bases -- did not make it so hard to do so. But there is little chance that a suitable climate for compromise and bipartisanship will take hold anytime soon -- meaning that we can look forward to more headaches ahead at home and abroad."
Don't you think that it's high time that each of us have that 'aha' moment when we 'see' that we must fight for our lives and our country as we know it? When will we get in there and say our piece, become strategic in our efforts to build and implement a plan to take back our country?When will we take to the streets? Before it's all too late?

Note: I had a terrible time formatting this post, so please forgive the spacing between lines of text. Formatting is a mess, just like Congress.

Note: Photos are taken from The New York Times. Lots of American flags behind from McConnell and Boehner, aren't there?

Note: This morning The Washington Post talks about Mitch McConnell. At the very least, he is an old-timer with true regard for the Senate and he knows how to negotiate. But will the Democrats give too much at our expense?

1 comment:

Cindy's Coffeehouse said...

All I can say is that those who don't remember history are destined to repeat it. Too bad all those people can't just live on a little island by themselves -- instead of taking the country down with them.