Archive for Saturday, January 5, 2013

Simons’ Saturday Column: Lawmakers should focus on nation, not re-election

January 5, 2013


Thursday, this nation’s 113th Congress convened with 82 new House members and 13 new senators among those taking the oath of office.

All House members were engaged in re-election efforts, and it’s a good bet all pledged to work in the best interests of the country and put partisan politics aside for the good of the country.

It’s likely those in contested Senate races made the same pledge relative to trying to bring about sound legislation.

It all sounds good, but what are the chances of these lofty campaign promises being fulfilled? Not good!

Rep. Matt Salmon, an Arizona Republican, didn’t sound optimistic when talking about the relationship between Congress and President Obama. He said, “It’s like the most dysfunctional family I’ve ever seen. It’s very frustrating that we can’t put aside some of our partisan differences.”

However, in their campaigns to gain voter support, House and Senate members, as well as President Obama, made many pledges about how they would vote on various thorny issues carried over from the previous Congress and how they would vote on policies favored by Obama. Too often, pledges are made and then broken.

Obama talks about wanting to work with Republicans to achieve legislation that he says is best for the country but, at the same time, he makes it clear he will veto legislation he does not personally favor. He does not want to compromise!

The seriousness of many issues facing Congress and how those issues will affect this nation and every citizen cannot be overstated. The national debt is a disgrace. The ever-increasing role or control of government in the lives of every American, the jobless situation, illegal immigration, the cost of entitlement programs and the sustainability of Social Security, the growing number of Americans who rely on government handouts and tax issues are just a few of the matters that merit serious attention and action by Congress.

However, far too many in Congress are focused on “how do I keep my job, how can I be re-elected,” rather than concentrating on “doing what is best for my country.” This means voting for programs and policies that will please the most voters in each state and House district across the country.

How can Congress fail to take positive action relative to the “fiscal cliff” matter and allow continued, uncontrolled growth of government? Lawmakers postpone, delay, kick the can down the road, talk out of both sides of their mouths, base actions on public polls rather than what’s best for the future of this country. They disregard what has made this country great and allow this nation and its people to slip and slide further into a socialized state.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be reason to hope for change in the actions and vision of Congress and the president based on what the public has witnessed over the past four years. The danger is Obama does not have to worry about being re-elected so he is free to do whatever he wishes to execute the policies and laws to change America as he called for when campaigning for his first term in the White House.

Who knows or who can predict the condition or level of personal freedom in this country four years from now? Sadly, those in Congress apparently don’t have the backbone or courage to place the country’s best interests in the forefront, rather than trying to appease their constituents and win their next re-election effort.


Robert Rauktis 5 years, 5 months ago

"They disregard what has made this country great and allow this nation and its people to slip and slide further into a socialized state."

So should a federal state take care of its constituents in the event that unprovoked and unanticipated circumstances require your assistance? Or should you be inadequate and cowards like the Kansas congressional delegation? And I'd guess their constituents?

I'd say their is a lot more chance of future tornadoes in Kansas in places requiring federal assistance.

appleaday 5 years, 5 months ago

Maybe now that Mitch McConnell's number one job can't be making Obama a one-term president, he'll look toward the country's well-being. Or not. Obama definitely has his problems communicating and working with Congress, but Congress overwhelmingly does almost anything they can to obstruct his proposals. Both sides, Mr Simon, are at fault. It's really time to quit being so partisan and start working together. Any time one "side" wins and the other "side" loses, the American population and any resolution of our problems gets cast aside. The recent refusal to vote on aid for Hurricane Sandy victims is a good example.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 5 months ago

His new goal? Make sure nothing happens for the next four years. QED.

Hoots 5 years, 5 months ago

As I took the article he is blaming everyone. How is he being partisan in any of his language? He didn't say anything untrue. Have you seen all the pork that was added to the Sandy bill? That in itself is a huge slap in the face to all taxpayers. I wouldn't have voted for that turd of a bill without taking out all the hijacked funds.

Brian Laird 5 years, 5 months ago

Given that the only person (or group) that he specifically mentions as not wanting to compromise is President Obama and not the Republicans I would say that your observations are incorrect.

Greg Cooper 5 years, 5 months ago

Please reference the link on another thread quoting the ENTIRE relief bill. Your assertion of pork is completely, absolutely, and irrevocable wrong. Perhaps a bit of research, not of the "reading the blogs" type, would help you be informed.

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 5 months ago

Amazing how many people now believe that the whole list of pork that someone posted a couple of weeks ago actually applies to the Sandy disaster relief bill.

Trumbull 5 years, 5 months ago

"How is he being partisan in any of his language?"

The author of this article writes:

"He (Obama) does not want to compromise!" The exclamation point really magnifies the bias.

WilburM 5 years, 5 months ago

Where is the criticism of Yoder and Jenkins for voting against Sandy aid, rather than worrying about their Tea Party minority on the far right? This piece doesn't pass the smell test.

deec 5 years, 5 months ago

While the Tea pols play politics with rebuilding the East Coast, the Occupy movement puts boots on the ground to help the victims.

Armstrong 5 years, 5 months ago

Yep, Dobama's compromise is like me telling you - Ok Gandalf your choice is to be a conservative or ultra-conservative. Feel free to pick the options of my compromise.

Armstrong 5 years, 5 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Trumbull 5 years, 5 months ago

America will look like Greece or Mexico if we follow the Republican prescription. Austerity during a recession will make us more like Greece (or Spain). De-Regulation and Plutocracy will make us more like Mexico.

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 5 months ago

They did the same thing four years ago, too. I'm sure the folks selling guns, ammo and survival supplies are just as happy now as they were then. Capitalism working the way it should :-)

weeslicket 5 years, 5 months ago

last sentence fixed: Sadly, those in Congress apparently don’t have the backbone or courage to place MY best interests in the forefront, rather than trying to appease ME and win MY (editorial support).

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

If you truly believe what you said, Dolph, are you ready to support fundamental campaign finance reform that removes our legislative branch from the grips of the continuous pursuit for campaign funds and thereby becoming beholden to those highest bidders? After all, this is the primary source of our inability to act in a bipartisan way that is best for our country.

An example of what fundamental campaign reform might look like: wouldn't it be cool to make it the law of the land that any political campaign contribution must be evenly disbursed between the top two or three candidates? This would be based on the clear evidence that a special interest contribution given to a candidate is a form of bribery that shifts the legislator's allegiance from representing individual voters in her or his district to just being a proxy for that big contributor. This would free up our legislators from the daily fundraising grind, would perhaps encourage the best members of our community to consider running for public office, and remind the office holder that they are there to represent everyone since interests from every special interest would have contributed to their campaign coffers, and their re-election would be based on how they performed as representatives, not whose campaign coffer was the biggest and who was the biggest contributors to it.

Furthermore, our current system actually limits our first amendments right to free speech in that if you hold a viewpoint different than the legislator's big contributors, you will not be able to speak with that legislator about it and they will be constrained from listening to you lest the big contributor withdraws their money because they heard about your meeting with said legislator.

Scott Drummond 5 years, 5 months ago

"This means voting for programs and policies that will please the most voters in each state and House district across the country."

Oh, the horror!!

Armstrong 5 years, 5 months ago

You mean like in Kansas. Conservatives are a majority of the state therefore the conservative vote rules.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

You think the Koch brothers represent the average Kansan? Don't think so.

Trumbull 5 years, 5 months ago

I got a warm fuzzy feeling when I read the title, but then saw it was just another Obama critique after reading. He writes that the national debt is a disgrace and cries out against entiltements and government handouts (with no mention of the 4 trillion wars).

He also says Obama is unwilling to compromise. This is not true. He extended the Bush tax cuts during his 1st term. This time he compromised the increase in the tax rate from 250k to 400k.

Nothing is said about the Republican practice of obstructionism. They have flipped sides on issues that they were in favor of before Obama. And the Republicans also held us hostage and risked the credit rating of the United Statesduring the 2011 debt ceiling crisis. They created enormous uncertainty during the fiscal cliff crisis New Year's eve. They are now going to use the current debt ceiling agreement as leverage and thus create another crisis. All of this crisis is creating uncertainty and doing the country much harm. For this, I consider them villains and traitors.

These politicians remind me of lineman who refuse to block because they don't like their Quarterback. They want to see him get sacked without caring that it will hurt the team. The team is us. The United States of America.

Trumbull 5 years, 5 months ago

The way I remember it was that the Democrats put aside differences and supported Bush after 9/11, the two wars, the financial bailout, etc.

I don't recall any debt ceiling crisis or things like that. Sure there was some phony bipartisin politics, but I don't remember it being this acute

Armstrong 5 years, 5 months ago

Was the debt even close to $16 TRILLION at that time ?

Trumbull 5 years, 5 months ago

The debt ceiling and the debt are two entirely different issues. Not raising the debt ceiling is the same thing as deciding not to pay your credit card bill.

The debt was not $16 Trillion. But, during that time, our debt massively increased and the mold was cast for future debt problems. The two wars, the financial crisis, health care inflation, job outsourcing, unemployment set a precedent that has got us where we are today.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

So you're advocating more taxes on those with an income above 200,000, I presume.

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 5 months ago

Because we're not talking about membership dues. You seem to have confused the difference between a country club...and a country.

Trumbull 5 years, 5 months ago

Someone with a large portfolio, wealth, property, business.....obtains much more benefit from our infrastructure than say.....someone making minimum wage and sharing an apartment. Just sayin.

Trumbull 5 years, 5 months ago

Maybe this example might make my point. A landowner with 1,000 acres of property benefits more from National defense, than say, one who lives on a 1/4 acre. A millionare businessman benefits more greatly from the rule of law, interstate commerce, and infrustructure, than say.... a minimum wage worker who walks or takes a bus to work.

Trumbull 5 years, 5 months ago

Laus_Deo. I don't think I can add any more. I respect your opinion. I just don't view a progressive tax rate as taking something away. And "creating something" can be hard to define and is subjective. One person may believe that a good teacher who is a positive influence on students has created more positives to the ledger, while another may say that a financial derivative trader is creating more good for society.

Norm Jennings 5 years, 5 months ago

The big smoke-screens are taxes and obstructionism.

The real problems are a dysfunctional legislative branch and the massive over-commitment of any available or reasonably projected US financial resources both now, and well into the future.

The states may very well have to be the agent of change to fix the Constitutional inadequacy that allows this dysfunction.

If the 113th congress doesn't deliver a budget by June 30th, their pay should be suspended until a budget bill is on the President's desk for signature.

This congress, and any congress that fails to offer a budget that progressively reduces the national deficit by at least 1% (and eventually the national debt), those individuals should be ineligible to participate in the next election.

All congressional retirement, healthcare, and other federal benefits need to mirror the benefits mandated by congressional legislation for all other US citizens.

For too many years the constitutional requirements of the congress have been allowed to languish unaddressed.

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 5 months ago

Maybe it would help if you knew what you were talking about first?

Or have you never bothered to actually read the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974...which is what actually governs the role of the Congress in the United States budget process?

Or how about claims like your nonsense about congressional pensions and healthcare? (Your myths have been debunked by Snopes, for crying out loud. That's how bogus your beliefs are about this one.)

And please...oh please...point us to the "constitutional requirements of the congress [that] have been allowed to languish unaddressed"???

windjammer 5 years, 5 months ago

Why do we waste time reading any of the crap from Dolph?

Trumbull 5 years, 5 months ago

We will have a real experiment to see.....The next crisis is just around the corner. If this is delayed or stalled by the Republicans, it will be proof enough.

A few points about the debt ceiling: 1) It is not about spending or budget.
2) It is about the United States keeping its word and paying its obligations. 3) If it is not raised, the United States will default on its debt/obligations. 4) If not raised, the US and the World economy will suffer severe consequences. 5) Budget cuts, tax rates, unemployment, job outsourcing, health care, etc are critical issues that must be addressed to solve our debt/defecit issue. Still the debt ceiling is independent of all of this, and is a completely different matter.

If the Republicans delay or use the next debt ceiling as a form of "leverage", they are practicing economic sabotage and holding the American public and business community hostage. If they do this, they need to be called out for it and booted out of office the next time they come up for a vote. Democrats and Republicans should both agree on the debt ceiling.

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 5 months ago

Was it really necessary to be personally insulting to Michelle Obama because you don't like her husband's politics? How disgusting on your part.

And what's this nonsense about Bush "just" going to his home to clear brush. Do you seriously think the Secret Service and Air Force One and his staff weren't all expenses for the 32% of his time in office that he was on vacation? I mean, Bush has still spent FAR more money on non-official travel than any president in history.

But, you know what? I never resented Bush for that. I mean, it's not like the POTUS ever really gets to take a vacation from the job...or shouldn't be allowed to even sleep or use the bathroom. (And, heaven forfend he plays a round of golf every 3 weeks or a pickup basketball game in the backyard.)

So instead of you whining that two wrongs should make a right, why don't you just stop whining...period???

Trumbull 5 years, 5 months ago

"That being said, Democrats sat on their hands for four years purposely not passing a budget and letting us edge closer and closer to this so called fiscal cliff, only to (and knowing the media would assist them) blame it all on Republicans"

This is a Republican talking point. It sounds like a lie or misinformation. I confess, I do not know why a budget has not been passed. I am more willing to take the opinion of someone who does not call the President and first lady "Barry and Moochelle".

notaubermime 5 years, 5 months ago

I have to roll my eyes whenever someone criticizes anyone for not working with the Republicans. Really? The Republicans do not even work with the Republicans. Boehner could not even pass his Plan B in the House. If the Republicans could not even agree with each other enough to pass their own plan to avert the fiscal cliff in the one section of the government they have the majority, how can anyone else be expected to work with them?

Shelley Bock 5 years, 5 months ago

Do you mean that Dolph won't support austerity? How shocking!

JW1944 5 years, 5 months ago

2 simple things:

  1. Two Term limits for ALL congress

  2. Make ALL lobbyism illegal

If the American people have the guts to do these 2 things we can take this country back to the people, by the people, for the people, as it was intended to be. No more Billionaire Kock brothers buying Governors & big corporations making all the laws to benefit their bank accounts. Do these 2 things & just maybe we can get the true America back to the people, by the people, & for the people, and not just for the wealthiest 2%.

JackMcKee 5 years, 5 months ago

Dolph, just stop. Take what little humility and shame you have left and retire.

Keith 5 years, 5 months ago

Have you noticed he's dialed it back to once every 2 weeks? I applaud this move. Maybe in the future his columns can be as rare as George Gurley's.

Trumbull 5 years, 5 months ago

"The national debt is a disgrace" Editorial Writer

I might also ad that willfully deciding not to pay the debt and default on our "credit card bill" raises the disgrace a 1000 times.

Everyone needs to remember this when the Republicans stall and threaten not to raise the debt ceiling. This is what they are proposing as a means of leverage and threaten a world crisis. Even if they are bluffing, this is a terribly dangerous and irresponsible thing to do. They are villains for doing so......just as they were in summer 2011.

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

Maybe, but if we have to keep borrowing more money to pay our "credit card bill", something's wrong with our finances.

We're increasing our debt to just make the monthly payments.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 5 months ago

The "ceiling" vote is bogus anyway. They abandoned it for years. The President can use the Constitution to pay the bills. ~~~~ "In 1979, Rep. Richard Gephardt (D) of Missouri proposed setting the debt limit automatically at the level projected by the most recent budget resolution. The rule, still in effect, allows for the debt limit to be raised without the House having to take an unpopular stand-alone vote. In 1995, then-majority House Republicans waived the Gephardt rule. They refused to raise the debt limit in a bid to force President Clinton to accept spending cuts — prompting two government shutdowns." Ezra Klein. Washington Post"

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