Friday, August 23, 2013

The State of Congress and American Policy

Broken Congress
This summer has not been kind to those with hopes of progress in the United States Congress. Sequestration has been accepted as a fact of life that will ruin the lives and dreams of many.

Public defenders are being cut along with Head Start which helps at risk youth get through school properly. Assistance to housing is disappearing as well. The whole sequestration bit seems to have been designed by someone who thought that Charles Dickens was describing a utopia.

Additionally, immigration reform seems dead in the water. This is after a number of Republican Senators, who voted for none of President Obama’s major reforms in the 111th Congress, came together with Democrats and voted for a comprehensive bill that makes the Wall from Game of Thrones seem like a white picket fence.

The immigration bill also provides a pathway for citizenship for the millions of undocumented Americans who live among us, noticed only when necessary or we are forced to: when they are waiting to do some back breaking job so that their children can one day enjoy the American Dream. The bill also weeds out the criminal undocumented, by the way.

The bill also tries to reform the system for those forced to deal with red and bureaucracy when they move here. It was analyzed by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, which said that it will decrease our massive deficit since the undocumented will pay taxes along with massive fines. Unfortunately the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, whose committee has jurisdiction over this, does not like this bill. His name is Bob Goodlatte and represents rural western Virginia but not West Virginia. He doesn’t care much for the Dreamers.

But there’s always hope the utter bare minimum will be done. There was hope due to the dramatic win by Barack Obama and Democrats picking up more Senate seats last year. Unfortunately, the Republicans have a majority in the House even if most of them don’t much care for the Speaker. The utter bare minimum doesn’t include not playing chicken over the federal budget and addressing the high unemployment level that exists in a country as bountiful as ours.

What’s to be done about Congressional gridlock?

Ideally what someone should do is find people in Republican districts and persuade them to advocate that their Members of Congress support moderate solutions to problems. That would be the ideal of course.

That would require a legitimate organization that would look for the moderates that could persuade Republicans to defy their base supporters. This is easier said than done since the aforementioned moderates are likely moderate on some issues and may be conservative on other issues. For example, we might find some who approves of a budget deal in general, but might not approve the final deal and could reverse their support. Or, they approve an organization which in principle would support a deal and moderation, but which in fact does not.

So it seems my loyal legions of readers, that this has been a grim summer for Congress. But do not despair. As Harvey Dent said it’s always darkest before the dawn. There is always the possibility of a breakthrough on minor issues which leads to the addressing of the bigger issues. Plus football season is coming back soon!