- Politics and Social Issues
The Worst Congress In History?
In light of the looming fiscal cliff and the possibility of another recession, I have to say that I am extremely ashamed of my country and its Congress. And I do not believe that I am alone. Every American should be deeply angry with Congress right now, and particularly with the pack of loons on the far right in the Republican Party. Over the next few days, we will, as a country, debate just who in Washington should get most of the blame. Should it be President Obama, who seems, to some, as if he is far from leading in negotiations over the particulars? Or John Boehner, who, just when it seemed that he had a deal with Obama, pulled out of the talks to propose Plan B, which did not even get enough votes to enter the House floor, let alone pass it? Democrats, for not really trying, or Republicans, for not trying at all?
Here is what I think of the whole blasted issue; Republicans in Congress have been in pieces ever since November 7, trying to figure out just how to carry on with four more years of Obama. They never got the White House, saw the Senate slip past their reach, again, and would certainly have lost the House too, if not for the fact that partisan redistricting saved many Republican seats. Even so, the Republicans hold on the House of Representatives is diminished. The same thing happened to Obama in 2010. This is what he calls a "shellacking."
Where do Republicans go from that kind of defeat? Also of importance is that during the election, tax rates and cutting spending were big favorites of both candidates. Indeed, taxes were one of the few consistent things about Mitt Romney. Obama said, over and over, that he favored raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, while compromising with Republicans on the spending cuts. Romney said, over and over, that he wanted to extend the Bush tax cuts, and cut spending on "entitlement" programs. It was a close thing, but on election day, Obama got 51 percent of the popular vote, and Romney a fitting 47 percent.
Public opinion polls show that half of the American public supports a tax increase for people making more than $400,000 a year. A Bloomberg poll released on December 12 found that 65 percent of Americans believed that Obama has a "mandate to raise taxes," on high income Americans. According to the Pew Research poll, 62 percent of Americans, including majorities of men, independents and Southerners, stated that Republicans would be to blame if the United States falls off the fiscal cliff. Since 52 percent of Americans already think that the country is destined to default, it seems that majorities already blame Republicans for this impending disaster.
So, where do Republicans go from here? They have two choices. If they care at all about the country, they can choose to meet the President halfway, coming to their senses on taxes and forcing some Democrats to accept the need for spending cuts. If they care more about ideological purity and opposition to Obama and the Democrats, they can choose to hold the entire process of compromise back. That is for when there is one Republican Party. Unfortunately, there are two Republican Parties, and so that means that both of those choices are made. Moderate Republicans have been trying to choose compromise. The incompetent Tea Party has already chosen opposition.
Some might be tempted to blame Obama after reading George Will or Charles Krauthammer, because of that silly little "lack of leadership" argument. The truth is that Obama has gone from drawing the line at tax cuts for those making $250,000 a year, up to $400,000. He has offered to put spending cuts on the table, if only Republicans would name what they want those cuts to be. Liberals from within Obama's own party might well be frustrated in their attempts to keep Social Security and Medicaid off the bargaining table. There is no lack of leadership coming from the White House. John Boehner is the Speaker of the House. He is a leader, too. Why doesn't he lead, for a change?
Which brings me to the cause of my, and no doubt many others, anger. This Congress has already been ranked as one of the least productive sessions in history,with only a little over 200 bills passed, mostly because of Republican obstruction. In 2011, Republicans nearly forced the United States to go into default, which led to a commission to create a deadline in 2012, over which taxes would go up for everyone, and automatic spending cuts would go into effect. In two words, that's the Fiscal Cliff. The reasoning was that even the most gridlocked Congress would be forced to act before a deadline. But this Congress has been more infantile than anyone expected, and we still might go into default.
So, is this not the worst Congress in history?
- Politicians Have a Talking Problem
Politicians really need to shut up. And Americans really need to stop listening to them.