Tales From the Hilltop
An intelligent, yet Devil's Advocate view of the world

Episode Thirty-Three – The Hijacking of Congress….

This is what YOU voted for, America. So now we all have to deal with it.

Today’s episode (after a lengthy absence) stems from what can only be seen as legal hijacking going on in Capitol Hill. Most noted throughout the year would be the trials and tribulations President Obama would have to go through in working with the Republican majority-lead Senate and House of Representatives. However, I honestly don’t think even he would’ve though policies would have THIS many hurdles.

The main issue Republicans seem to have are the “Bush tax cuts”, in which former President George W. Bush enacted to give a tax cuts to the 2% of American that make up the wealthiest in this country, which is people who have an adjusted gross income of more than $250,000 per year. At the time, no one really minded it, because the country was somewhat still rich and the nation deficit wasn’t out of control. Fast forward six-eight years later: the country is still in debt, 10% of Americans are still out of work, and there doesn’t seem to be any long-term relief in sight. So, one would figure that by letting these tax cuts expire, those wealthy Americans who can afford to take a bigger percentage on taxes (from 36-39%). Of course, one would figure these things, anyway….

How wrong we’d all be on this. It looks like the Republicans are willing to fight hard to keep their money. So hard in fact, they’ve decided to hold up Congress and not vote on any other issues until the Bush tax cuts are renewed for the next two years. And since they control the majority of Congress – namely, the Senate – this has become a serious problem. Issues such as the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” referendum, which allows gays to serve in the Armed Forces, The “9/11” Responders Act, giving benefits to families directly affected by the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, and even the unemployment benefits extension to the millions of Americans still needing unemployment to rely on in these times. All of these things were seemingly put on hold by the no-showing of Senate members to vote on matters and pass these acts.

Ok, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have to draw a line somewhere.  The first issue I have with this is that this seems ethically irresponsible, if you ask me. “How can this even be legal?”, is the first question I have. I know, that normally filibustering is allowed to literally talk a bill to death, but not showing up in sessions completely? Ummm, correct me if I’m wrong, but is that what Congress was elected to do? That’s the equivalent of us going to work every day, so why can’t they? I mean, if I hate MY job, can I just decide not to go until the condition there improve up to my standards. I’m sure I could try, but then, I’d more than likely end up as one of the 10% of folks that are unemployed right now.

My second issue is did these Senators and Representatives forget who they’re serving? Is it the 2% people that can afford a tax increase of no more than 5%, or the majority of middle-class Americans, most of whom live on a paycheck to paycheck basis for whatever living they maintain?  Seems to me that the Senators are more interesting in keeping the wealthy more super-wealthy while the poorer ones treading water in this economy are getting thrown under the bus. This really reminds me of a political version of a temper tantrum, where a kid doesn’t get what they want, so they scream and throw fits. In this case, Congress has just shut down.

One major point I have to ask, though is what does all this say about our leader, President Obama? I know, it’s a slippery slope to talk about, but it’s clear that he didn’t stand his ground on this case from the beginning. Most of his economic reform was about “not repeating the mistakes of the last administration”, and he seems he’s been forced down that very path. Does that make him a victim of the checks and balances allowed by Congress? Does this make him a weaker leader than we thought? Or does this simply confirm the fact that no matter how much optimism one may have about construction, REAL change in this country, unless the majority accepts it (or is at least willing to try to work with it), only optimism will remain an idea and little else?

Look, I understand capitalism. For the most part, it’s been pegged as you keep what you make, and I’m very cool with that concept. However, in today’s society, where people are scrounging and struggling to live, in this country which has been experienced the worst overall financial state since the Great Depression years of the early 1930s, how can you possibly explain these tax cuts to be the reason to deny any other American anything else in Congress? How can these politicians say that they need to stand firm and not vote for anything else is possibly assisting the common American people? Unless the wealthy got together and decided they were going to use the money they saved to kick start the economy as a whole, then we are all in trouble for a while.

Greed. It’s a powerful thing, and it doesn’t seem to matter these days who’s getting trampled on to keep it. Not that it ever did.

12/14/2010

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