Well, Congress has done its work — some might say “dirty” work, and the Senate has recessed for a month, no doubt to rest and recreate after the harrowing ordeal to which it has subjected itself. If ever there were an example of self-flagellation, the attempts to get the debt ceiling raised is it.
This exercise in futility was not something that just suddenly sprang up and caught everyone with their pants down. Congress and the administration knew for months ahead of time that the debt ceiling would have to be raised, yet everyone sat on their hands and did nothing until the very last minute.
How laughable. Our elected representatives take the United States to the brink of financial meltdown and then apparently feel they have earned a month-long vacation. (How many civilian workers would like to have a month off each year?)
Not only is Congress abandoning the D.C. beltway for a month, it is leaving without addressing the very important issue of FAA funding, leaving 7,000 FAA employees laid off and another 40,000 civilian construction workers at the nation’s airports without work until the issue is settled.
And at the last minute, unable to reach firm figures for decreasing spending — and no figures for increasing revenue — negotiators fall back on a new “super committee,” composed of 12 members of Congress, that will allegedly come up with specific proposals to cut spending by another 1.2 trillion dollars by the end of November.
Just what this country needs — another committee.
Throughout all these negotiations, Congress and the administration could simply have gone back, opened up the report of the Simpson-Bowles commission and adopted the recommendations contained therein, and the impasse we have witnessed would not have been necessary.
Even as this “super committee” idea was being floated, our very own Sen. Mitch McConnell (the Great Barrier Reef) has stated that he will appoint the Republican members who will absolutely never vote for any increase in revenues. One must assume that this means no increase in taxes for any level of income, no removal of the Bush tax cuts which are already supposed to expire, and no closing of tax loopholes for corporations which ship jobs overseas and billionaires who pay a smaller percentage of taxes than do most middle income families.
In all the discussions about cutting spending, nowhere has there been mention of cutting the expenses of Congress, the free trips, exorbitant retirement benefits, gold-plated health benefits and bloated staffs.
And nowhere in these discussions about cutting government spending, mostly by reducing government employment, do any of those touting these reductions seem to understand that a government employee is also someone who is in a position to aid our economic recovery by the spending that she does when she buys groceries, clothing, back-to-school supplies, cars, pays a mortgage and the myriad other things that every average employee does.
Do those who espouse reducing government realize that having thousands more laid-off government employees just adds to the statistics of unemployed workers and those applying for unemployment benefits? Apparently not.
Recent polls suggest that the majority of the American people believe that Congress is dysfunctional, is not doing the job for which it was elected, and is not working for the benefit of the country.
Naturally every member of Congress constantly attests that he or she is listening to the desires of his or her constituents. One can only wonder if there is not some selective listening going on, especially from those who are not only commenting in a senator’s or representative’s ear, but who are also handing over a healthy re-election campaign contribution at the same time.
We elected these incompetent ignoramuses to Congress; we, too, are guilty of self-flagellation.
Contact Winchester Sun columnist Chuck Witt at email@example.com.