Burnard: Losing respectWritten by Don Burnard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The more I hear from the Republicans on virtually any subject, the more respect I lose for this once Grand Old Party. They are obviously willing to let their hatred for President Barack Obama override any useful thing they could do to actually help the country. They don’t love America, they hate Obama.
This is no longer the country I’ve lived in my entire life. It is morphing into some bizarre world where the American values that persons of my generation, and the generations of most of the Congressional leaders, seem to no longer apply. There have always been nuts and fruitcakes on the fringes, but now they have moved front and center and into positions that were formerly reserved for “responsible leadership.”
The lunacy that is spouted daily would have been ignored 20 or 30 years ago, discredited as ravings of mad men and women and ridiculed. Today, the media treats these ravings as useful input for the national discussion. Unfortunately, we the public are paying the price while the GOP tries to get its act together. Thanks to its liberal (no pun intended) use of the filibuster in the Senate, and House Speaker John Boehner’s inability to control the disparate groups that the GOP hitched to its wagon, governance is pretty near impossible.
Witness the fiscal cliff “negotiations,” for example. Negotiations is practically an oxymoron. The GOP seems to be completely ignoring the fact that it lost the election and thinks that if it can’t have its way, it will be more than willing to take down the U.S. economy, and possibly the world economy, with it.
Let’s hope the Republicans don’t play the same games with the upcoming debt ceiling negotiations. This process used to be a matter of course. Now it’s being used to try to blackmail the country into adopting the GOP plan for America. Ronald Reagan raised the debt ceiling 17 times. George H.W. Bush raised it eight times. Bill Clinton raised it four times, and Dubya raised it eight times. None of these times were used as economic hostage negotiations. Obama has raised the debt ceiling three times so far, and the last fight to do so caused the credit rating for the U.S. to be downgraded for the first time in history and helped delay the recovery.
Judging by the dialogue coming from GOP leaders, the party appears willing to risk it again if it doesn’t get its way. It’s no wonder Congress is polling below head lice, cockroaches and many other unsavory things.
It’s time the American public starts demanding that Congress quit all this childish nonsense and do the job it was elected to do. If you don’t believe in government, then get out of it.
The first cut, if it comes to that, should be congressional salaries and benefits. They can afford it better than most, since a disproportionately large number of them are millionaires. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s wealth, according to The Washington Post, went from
$3.1 million in 2004 to $27.2 million in 2010. Most Americans’ wealth took a substantial hit during that time. I had no idea that doing the people’s business was that lucrative.
In fact, many members of Congress came through the economic downturn smelling like roses. Instead of soldiers, Social Security recipients and working stiffs taking the hit for them refusing to pay the tab they ran up, it seems only fair that they take one for the team for a change. I’m sure their wealthy benefactors will be more than happy to see that they don’t starve, lose their houses or go bankrupt. President Obama should invoke the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, Section 4, which states “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law … shall not be questioned.”
Now, after spending money like drunken sailors during the Bush years, starting two wars that cost more than $1 trillion and giving the richest citizens obscene tax breaks that cost another $1 trillion or so, we’re supposed to forget all those American values we were raised on and take the hit for their actions. To hell with the poor, the unemployed, hurricane victims and everyone else but the top.
Sorry, but that’s not my American Dream. If it’s yours, you must indeed be wealthy.
Email columnist Don Burnard at email@example.com.