The Dysfunctional Congress
By Jack Ward
How did we wind up with such a dysfunctional Congress? Prior to 1994, the Democrats had controlled the U.S. House of Representatives for decades. The Republicans were considered a permanent minority by the Democrats; and Republicans received as much respect as an uninvited house guest. But after Newt Gingrich engineered the Republican victory, the Democrats became the minority party in the House. After 40 years as political royalty the Democrats greeted this change in leadership and control open hostility.
Since then the animosity seemed to grow. Then Representative Nancy Pelosi made many promises including more bipartisanship, end of pork barrel spending, and an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq if the Democrats were put back in charge. Pelosi did successfully engineer a Democrat victory and now she is the Speaker of the House. But rather than a mild philosophy change, the House went from a center right political philosophy to a hard left philosophy. Pelosi was one of the darlings of the Progressive Caucus. (In ‘new speak' Progressive is the same as Socialist) So with Pelosi as the new Speaker, the change in leadership was an abrupt 180 degree change from center right to hard left.
But it wasn't all roses for the diehard Democrat electorate either. Pelosi and her minions only waited about a week to betray their supporters and abandon efforts to immediately pull the troops from Iraq. Of course betraying the rabid anti war Democrats didn't hurt these politicos. After all where is the hard core left going to go? In disgust, Cindy Sheehan vowed to run against Pelosi, but that was hardly a threat to Pelosi's role as Speaker. In addition, the promise of bipartisanship and ending pork barrel spending evaporated like her other promises.
But with the abrupt shift to the Left, what legislation has been enacted? In reality – virtually nothing. Normally I'd be thrilled with a do nothing Congress; that means they aren't violating our constitutional rights. But there are a few things that Congress should be addressing. We know that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, are going broke yet Congress has ignored the pending debacle. The country is mired in debt yet the Congress has not completed any of the required appropriation bills. The country is reeling due to the high cost of energy but Pelosi won't allow a vote on energy legislation. Investors Business Daily said the following about Speaker Pelosi. "Any leader with an energy record as derelict as Speaker Pelosi's ought to step down. Where she once was just incompetent and irresponsible, she has now — with her latest scheme to fix oil prices — become dangerous." Pelosi's leadership has resulted in one of the lowest Congressional poll rating in history.
But Pelosi isn't interested it working to solve these problems. So rather than continue to work on existing national problems she scheduled an adjournment for a five week vacation. She will use the time flying around the country in her government provided aircraft and riding in her government provided SUV attending events attempting to sell her recent book.
No one should be surprised that vacation time is more important to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi than actually doing the country's business. Last February, Pelosi called a Valentine's Day recess so she could get to her daughter's wedding. It didn't matter to her that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was expiring and legislative action was required.
The political maxim to reward your friends and punish your enemies has dominated Speaker Pelosi's Politburo. Just as your mother told you to eat your spinach and clean up your room, Mother Pelosi has dictated menu changes in the House cafeteria and adorned the House with more flowers. But the legislative accomplishments of the Pelosi Politburo are minimal. All that she and her minions can dream about is new spending plans.
(c) 2008, Jack Ward
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!