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Congress as Anti-Santa: Its Time to Actually Change

This past week, we saw news that a package deal on a “jobs” bill between Democrats and Republicans was scuttled. According to the AP, “Senate Democrats balked at a broad[] bill stuffed with unrelated provisions sought by lobbyists for business groups and doctors.”

That’s out, so it’s in with the new:

The centerpiece of [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid’s new bill is a $13 billion payroll tax credit for companies that hire unemployed workers. The idea, by Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, would exempt businesses hiring unemployed workers in 2010 from the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax for those hires. It also would provide an additional $1,000 tax credit for workers retained for a full year and deposit an additional $20 billion into the federal highway trust fund – money that would have to be borrowed. There’s also $2 billion to subsidize bond issues by state and local governments for large infrastructure projects

santaBut . . . what is all that stuff?

Why is Congress slapping together bills and—before they’re even introduced—selling them as done deals?

The American public wants to know what they’re getting. It’s like Congress is an anti-Santa—wrapping up and delivering us packages that we don’t necessarily want.

The PBS NewsHour had a segment Friday discussing the extremely low esteem the public has for Washington. The comedy team of Shields and Brooks—er, sorry—commentators Mark Shields and David Brooks—followed up on the public opinion story, and Brooks said something interesting about transparency and Congress:

Bill Galston, who is at the Brookings Institution . . . has a line that government should be shrouded for the same reason middle-aged people should wear clothing, that you just don’t want to see it, necessarily. And I think, as people have seen it more closely, because of transparency and because of TV, they: Oh, I don’t like that very much.

I think that’s true, but I don’t think it captures the whole story. Exposure of how Washington works today is displeasing to the public. For that dynamic to change, Congress has to change its behavior and start acting more like the legislature we learned about in civics class.

When President Obama was running, he gained support because of promises to post bills online for five days before signing them, to put negotiations about health care on C-SPAN, and so on. The public knows that government can operate in the sunshine, but the government is still not doing that.

With the surprise election of Republican Scott Brown to serve as a senator from Massachusetts, the political alignments in Washington, D.C. have been shaken. Both parties are looking around to figure out how they can position themselves for advantage in the upcoming election.

It looks as though they’ll jockey for credit over whether “something gets done” or who gets blame if things don’t get done. That’s business as usual.

My guess is that “package” deals like the ones being batted around now are not going to win the public’s praise in any event. It’s real change in the way lawmaking works—things like earmark transparency, and follow-through on the president’s transparency commitments—that will restore appreciation of the government by a newly empowered and more aware citizenry.

And Santa can come just once a year, with gifts we actually want.

Visitor Comments for Congress as Anti-Santa: Its Time to Actually Change RSS 2.0

Jim Dawson

Does not Congress understand, and I don’t think I am speaking from the extreme view, that American do not want any type of legislation by which the government has anything to do with health care, jobs, or anything else until they clean up their act with all the pork and slop they have bestowed upon us.

Why can they not understand “Quit Spending”. They have spent the country into bankruptcy. They must let go of all of this non seneschal spending until they get expenses under control. Why can they not stop spending, stop spending, stop spending.

Yes, jobs can be created through tax cuts, but let private enterprise create the jobs, not government. We have such a glut of government workers now who take up space for paychecks and do not earn their money. That too is a step above welfare, and has to cease because Congress is killing us with their waste.

And look at what immigration has costs us. I don’t even know where to begin there. At this point I cannot support any party, because I believe corruption has so integrated Washington DC as well as State and local governments that it is impossible to believe anyone has made the right decision in choosing who to vote for.

My only solutions is to see every member of Congress get voted out when their term is up. I don’t believe you can tell the corrupt from the non-corrupt today. All of the special interest packages are being touted as looking good for their particular state as it either brings or sustains jobs or brings with it some type of asset to their District. When in fact, they are tearing our country financially apart. Democrats are destroying our country, but so are many Republicans. Why can they not get the deficit paid down and then look at ways of improving what they already have messed up such as medicade, medicare, expansion of government jobs which are a drain on the tax payer and so many other areas too numerous to mention. I am so frustrated at our government’s unwillingness to listen to the people and promote their own agenda that I wish I had the power to fire them all and start over.

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