THE 110TH CONGRESS: Politics Trumps Progress

The 110th Congress is nearly half over. The current Congressional approval rating is at an all time low at 19 percent as per the NBC/WSJ poll. What a disappointing first half of the current 110th Congress. There is grave concern that the current Congress is one of the most unpopular and least effective since the 80th Congress that Harry Truman reviled as "do nothing" in his famous 1948 underdog campaign for president. What would Harry Truman say about the 110th Congress? Without doubt, he would probably need to apologize to the 80th Congress for his sharp criticism, in light of the current state of Congressional affairs we now observe today. During the campaign of 2006, the now Congressional majority ran a campaign of "big changes on the horizon" but their rhetoric has proven to be devoid of substance.

What a difference a year can make. Just eleven months ago, big changes were in the wind as articulated by the then new majority. Nancy Pelosi promised that with a Democrat Congress, there would be big changes. It was promised that within its first 100 HOURS, the Congress would pass laws that would bring the troops home from Iraq, secure energy independence, reform immigration laws, make college affordable for all, improve the health care situation bringing on line hearth care tort reform, and address broad taxing and spending issues. These are promises unkept.

It is true, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel proposed a tax bill to raise more than $1 trillion on the backs of hard working Americans. And so, there they go again, proposing higher taxes and more government spending...thus, building bridges which leads to nowhere other than bigger government. And thus, proposing higher taxes on working families resulting in another blow to the invisible hand of growth to the free enterprise system. And then too, there was the charade of the Senate "sleep over" while debating the funding of the War on Terror. And there was the three and half days of Senate session time on the "phony soldier" escapade. What a wasteful and expensive use of time when one considers that the annual cost of running the US Congress is several billions of dollars, $4,330,451,000 to be exact. This amount includes the $165,200 annual salary plus "whatever" for each member of Congress. All of this political "gotcha" while there are no results on immigration, the mortgage crisis , or balancing the budget.

A year ago, the new majority promised to "drain the swamp" and change Congress that had previously failed to address ethical problems of individual member. In the wake of Jack Abramoff, Mark Foley and numerous other scandals, the democrats rode on to victory in November 2006 promising reform in the new Congress. And yet, Congressman William Jefferson , democrat of Louisiana, remains in the House, corruption bills have been reduced to mere titles, and the need for stronger ethics rules have been lost by this Congress. The new Congress proclaimed that they would eliminate pork and granting special favors to lobbyists. Those were words, but actions prove otherwise. For example, we have seen bacon added to legislation...$25 million to Mrs. Pelosi's home state for California strawberries and $23 million earmarked for Mr. Murtha's district. And then there was $20 million for insect infestation control in Nevada, thanks to Majority Leader Harry Reid. And this is only a small snapshot of the unlimited millions of special favors. Imagine, this pork was added unto the emergency appropriations for US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. So much for "politics as usual" at the expense of security. The Congress did act on a health care bill called S-CHIPS. The bill had major flaws in that it raised the eligibility income level to 80,000 dollars. That level is nothing more than so called "Hillary Care" on the installment plan. The bill failed to provide coverage for poor children first, but rather, shifted middle class children and adults with private insurance onto government rolls thus taking badly needed funds away from poor children. This legislation was unconscionable.

Unfortunately, in place of constructive legislation, we have had a constant barrage of negative words and expressions of defeat. Senator Joe Lieberman said it well "Democrats have remained emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq, reluctant to acknowledge the progress being made there."

During this Congress we have had investigation after investigation designed by the majority to embarrass the minority. Sadly, these words seem to describe the tenor of the feeling in the Congress "now WE"LL get ours" and "YOU will get yours." Unfortunately, we have seen the same images of old-time politics at a time when the public is calling for reform with fresh ideas.

Nearly one year ago, our Column FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE said the following: "Let the 110th Congress be a Congress where decisions are made based upon the virtue of the principles involved. It is not enough to be just against something. There are a number of issues which need to be addressed immediately, several of which are: national security and protecting our country from foreign and sinister terrorists' force; a balanced budget amendment is certainly in order; and non-retroactive term limits, health care, and tort reform must be on the front burner. Energy independence and alternative fuel sources are of prime importance. Economic factors concerning Social Security are crying to be addressed. These matters must indeed top the agenda of the new Congress. Adding to the hot button issues must be the protection of our free enterprise system, which is the backbone of our economy, by holding down taxes and redressing entitlement spending. The Congress would do well to seriously examine the call of a majority of Americans who favor downsizing the role of government and reducing destructive regulative demands on individuals, and small and large businesses." Apparently these words and, more importantly, the words expressed by millions of others fell on deaf ears. Instead partisan bickering and inaction have reached an all time high.

These are critical times. The Congress must identify the solutions to issues which will expand the realization of direction for national security and domestic growth. The Congress needs to unlock the market of ideas, focus on developing a climate of building solutions, and creatively approach the task of continuing the structure of protecting and maintaining the American dream. Let it be said that this 110th Congress is a Body which has became a part of the solution and is not a part of the problem. Let this Congress begin now to lower taxes, lessen regulation, foster fiscal restraint, achieve energy independence and build a stronger national defense. Once that has been achieved, we will be well on our way toward achieving moral leadership based on solid moral principles. Let there be a spirit of "caring less" about whom gets the credit or who is to blame and "caring more" about doing the job right. And that is how we see it FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.