Today I read that the House of Representatives only has seven more days scheduled of work this year. We're just at December 3rd and that leaves four weeks on the calendar, but only one week of work. Hmm. During 2013 the House had a total of 239 DAYS OFF. How overworked can they be? They just took the mantle of the least effective congressional session EVER!
For what promises to be the worst congress in history, passing fewer bills than EVER before, here's what lies ahead. A reduced schedule for the second session of the 113th Congress. According to HuffPo:
They have even more off days scheduled for next year.
The 2014 calendar for the House, released in October by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), shows members will only work 113 days. That's down from 2013, when House lawmakers were scheduled to meet for 126 days.
I hope their New Years resolution is to work harder and actually get something done. Certainly they didn't this time around and now they're so overworked they're cutting back their calendar by two weeks. Perhaps if they do even less next year, they can cut 2015 down to once a month meetings at Boehner's house. For the results we're seeing, that should be plenty of time.
The old story goes, two men are arguing their case to a third man over the disputed sale of a mule. The argument becomes heated until the third man spots the Rabbi walking by and asks him to arbitrate. As a buddy to both, the third man didn't want to risk his friendship over this battle. The Rabbi agreed.
The first man tells his side of the story and the Rabbi nods to him and says, "You're right."
The second man rushes to tell his side of the story. After hearing it the Rabbi says, "You're right."
The third man looks to the Rabbi questioningly, "Bill's right and Dave's right? They can't both be right?"
The Rabbi pauses and say's to the third man, "You're right too."
And for years, the argument continued.
That story is similar to the problem with Congress and their budgetary committees. They're never going to see eye to eye and neither party is going to give an inch. They both know the other has valid points, but they'll never agree despite both being right. We, the public, are left as the third man.
According to the AP:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Since the end of World War II, more than a dozen high-profile bipartisan panels have been convened to tackle the nation's thorniest fiscal problems. Seldom have their recommendations spurred congressional action.
Their ambitious, high-octane reports and recommendations are mostly gathering dust on government shelves.
This doesn't bode well for the current 29-member bipartisan budget panel which faces a Dec. 13 deadline. What's at stake is another government shutdown. The current short-term spending bill is keeping the government running, but only through Jan. 15. The current debt ceiling runs only through Feb. 7. That last $26 billion debacle should have taught us something. But it's very unlikely if history is any indication.
One of the few special panels generally hailed as a success is the 1981-83 Social Security commission chaired by Republican economist Alan Greenspan, who later served for 19 years as Federal Reserve chairman under four different presidents. His panel is credited widely with rescuing the old-age benefit program from insolvency.
The panel quickly deadlocked, with Democrats opposing benefit cuts and Republicans opposing higher Social Security taxes. It came up with its big fix only after the direct, heavy intervention by Reagan and House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill, D-Mass.
The two main participants in that agreement are both dead. And sadly, nothing we can do will bring them back. So we must move on, not die with them.
In 2011, the Simpson-Bowles Act was a result of a wide-ranging proposal that would have generated new revenues and made some social program cuts. But it's sitting, collecting dust after meeting with indifference from both parties.
It failed, Simpson later suggested, because Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike "all worship the god of re-election."
So what will it take to move Congress off the dime and start them on a path to true fiscal leadership?
The answer is actually quite simple. It's a threat.
The threat is for a Congressional clean sweep. Yup, dump the chumps who are gumming up the works. But to get out the bad, remove all of those who are victims of favors they owe or beneficiaries of favors promised by them.
Call it tossing the baby out with the bathwater, but I prefer dump the chump. We'll lose the good with the bad, but if they're really good, they can run for reelection after sitting out a term. Then we'll know who's really dedicated and who's just collecting a check.
Sit one out for the team. Make us miss you and your legislative magic and we'll return you to office.
Until then, fresh blood. No obligations to the gerrymandered farts who don't care about anyone but themselves. They line their pockets with graft and then proclaim they're going to cut unnecessary spending. They will take a cleaver to the fat and sinew in the budget. Sadly they can't distinguish a medallion of fat from a filet mignon.
Fat and gristle to them is defined as spending that doesn't effect them directly. They'll not move an inch to close corporate loopholes but will cut food stamps for the poor. They'll not increase minimum wage or pass a jobs bill which could take hard working people off the food stamp rolls but will enrich farmers and big oil with subsidies -- two places they enrich themselves either directly or indirectly. They favor bridges to nowhere, not roads to deliver kids safely to schools.
It's only a thought, a dream, I know. But movements begin with dreams. And if we're going to face another shutdown, maybe this dump the chump is a dream these elected officials should be hearing before they dig in, entrench themselves and align with the likes of Cruz, Rubio, Paul and the other Tea Party stalwarts. All promoting hard-line stands which will lead to another shutdown.
Let your voices be heard before the shutdown. We can't afford another $26 billion in waste while we're starving millions who live and perish in sickness and in hunger.