Posted tagged ‘Congress’

Wrestlemania, Washington style

April 8, 2011

The older I get, the less tolerance I have for contrived political melodramas like the fight in Washington over the federal budget.

President Barack Obama, the Democratic Senate and the Republican House have been playing brinksmanship for weeks over how much to cut, with the threat of a federal government shutdown looming in the background.

The closer they seem to get, the further apart they seem to be as the national political debate resembles the WWE more every day, with clownish men and women bulked up on partisan steroids playing to the gallery with intentions that have more to do with drawing political blood and ducking blame than setting national spending.

Writing a budget is one of the main responsibilities of Congress and six months into the year they don’t have a budget for this year, much less an orderly process underway for drafting next year’s.

It’s hard to disagree with our own Sen. Daniel Inouye that this is no way to fund a government, and the unbecoming circus puts me in a “wake me up when they make a decision” state of mind.

I fully realize that tuning out the foreplay can be a dangerous thing. I paid little attention to the chest-thumping leading up to the Iraq war because deep down, I didn’t believe George W. Bush would be stupid enough to start dropping bombs.

Eight years later, I still don’t believe it.

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Is rational debate DOA?

November 16, 2010

Continuing our discussion last week on the need for a more civil and thoughtful national discourse, I was interested in some of the responses to preliminary ideas from the co-chairs of President Barack Obama’s deficit commission, which is scheduled to report next month.

Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson suggested, among other things, that we control Social Security costs by raising the retirement age or reducing benefits to those with high incomes.

A letter immediately went out from 100 “progressive” Democrats in the House, including our own Rep. Mazie Hirono, warning that any proposal that touched any hair on Social Security’s sweet little head would be dead on arrival.

I’m not a big fan of cutting Social Security; I just became eligible to apply for it after paying a good chunk of my income into the system all of my adult life.

But we have to face the fact that with the wave of baby boomers hitting retirement age, the system will soon be paying out more than it is taking in and we’ll need to do something to either increase the taxes coming in or reduce the funds flowing out.

The Bowles-Simpson remedies may not turn out to be the way to go, but declaring ideas offered after due consideration DOA without bothering to give them 10 seconds of thought is lazy and counterproductive.

That’s the problem with the tone and substance of our national debate — there’s a knee-jerk instinct on all sides is to declare anything they don’t like DOA, and as a result, nearly everything ends up DOA and little gets done.

The better path forward is to put all options on the table with open minds, hash them out in good faith and see what makes the most sense that the most people can live with.

The left’s denial of legitimate concerns about the federal deficit is as irrational as the right’s denial of global warming.


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