Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the Room
by Lyla Blake Ward

Am I the only one who thinks the Republicans are pulling a fast one here—that they don’t really want to put a Republican in the White House in 2012? Think about it for a minute--take a good look at the seven candidates we watched week after week on the Tuesday Night Show. Does anybody really think Michelle Bachman, who doesn’t seem to know which side we were on in the Revolutionary War, could be President? Or Herman Cain, who could pronounce Libya but wasn’t quite sure what their problem was? Or Newt Gingrich who carries more baggage than Samsonite? Or steady-in-the-polls, Mitt Romney, who could teach a chameleon how to change his colors?
No way. Those behind-the-scenes pols are well aware it’s the non- Presidents that can point the country in the right’s direction. The last thing they want is to have a Republican in the White House.
Look at history. Do you imagine for a minute these pros haven’t noticed even conservative Republican Presidents forget they are Republicans once they sit in the Oval Office; some going so far they almost begin to feel a kind of commitment to all the American people? Take Dwight Eisenhower, the unabashed father of the Interstate Highway System. Under his leadership Congress enacted the largest public works project in the country’s history, and funded it, sotto voce, by a tax on gasoline.
And then there was Nixon who had his Family Assistance Plan, a daring act predicated on the unRepublican belief that the Federal government has some responsibility toward impoverished families and should provide them with a minimum annual income; George Bush 1 who committed the cardinal sin of appealing to the deaf to read his lips : no new taxes, and then broke his promise because he was disloyal enough to think he had to act for the public i.e. national good. Even Ronald Reagan, that icon of conservatism, saw fit to ask Congress to raise taxes in 1982 in the midst of a recession; and George Bush 11, elected as a Republican, lost his creds when he initiated the Medicare Prescription Drug Act.
Can’t you see what they’re doing? Straw polls, shmaw polls--keep the cable news guys talking..Meanwhile Sarah Palin is free to ride around the country having Tea Parties and inciting angry Moms; Mike Huckabee can spread the Conservative gospel with impunity, from his cozy radio pulpit; Donald Trump, speaking from his golden headquarters, can expound on how government regulations have ruined business opportunities in this country.

A President, on the other hand, once he’s in office, has to adjust his principles. Remember 2009? Candidate Obama was strongly in favor of closing Guantanamo? News flash: it is still open. In that same campaign, Candidate Obama consistently took an antiwar stance. Was that the same guy who ordered 30,000 additional troops to be sent into Afghanistan? Candidate Obama called Wall Street CEO’s “fat cats.” Flash forward: 2011. Guess where the fundraisers are being held.
No, savvy Republicans know exactly which side their white bread is buttered on. They don’t want the White House back because they’re doing so much better without it. Earlier this year, they almost shut the government down by refusing to raise the debt ceiling. A President wouldn’t do that. As the Opposition Party they can be for repealing Roe versus Wade; the Healthcare Bill and Dodd-Frank; for privatizing Social Security; reducing Medicare and Medicaid; for eliminating the Department of Education, the EPA and Public television.
Once in office not many Presidents have been in favor of dismantling the government—it’s their meal ticket. The point is, you’re not going to see any plausible possible winner jump into the Republican primary race. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, or maybe it’s more shrewd Republican strategy that put the Republican candidates’ TV debates on Tuesday nights, because obviously they know on that night the biggest winner is none other than: The Biggest Loser.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Over “The Hill”
by Lyla Blake Ward
Let’s face it—As a senior citizen, I’m not too happy about the prospect of having my “entitlements” cut. Medicare may have its faults, but I wouldn’t want to have had my gallbladder out without it. So putting Medicare on the chopping block would not be to our benefit. I had to find a better way to cut government spending. The new Pew showing Congress at a less than 10% approval rating was the answer to my prayers Most of the people (over 65) love Medicare; 91% of the people do not love Congress. Why don’t we keep Medicare and get rid of Congress?

Drastic? A little, but the truth is, in addition to being unpopular, Congress is just no longer cost effective. We’re spending over 94 million of our hard earned tax dollars for salaries, plus benefits, and staff salaries plus benefits and entitlements for 535 people who only work on average 140 days a year. Travel is extra. It’s not enough for them to talk to a general when he comes back to this country; they feel more authentic talking to the general when he’s in his tent in Iraq or Afghanistan, $20,000 dollars away.
Well, we just can’t afford it. Even when they are in session, those three and a half months worth of days each year, where are they? As anyone who watches the televised sessions of Congress knows, they’re never in their seats. We see a Senator or a Representative waxing eloquent on a plan to save the earth, and he’s talking to a practically empty chamber. If they’re in the lobby talking to lobbyists, they sometimes don’t make it back in time to press the “no” button.
But sometimes they’re far away campaigning for office. Remember 2008? Six or seven Senators were able to take off one to two years , without penalty, to run for a Presidential nomination. It begs the question: who’s minding the store? And does it really make any difference whether a Congress person is actually at his job or whether he’s out to lunch--possibly for a year or two? This group has given a new meaning to being a Washington “outsider.”
Sad to say, Congress has outlived its usefulness. We have all the laws we need. Women have the vote, blacks have equality, immigration is on the decline, (who wants to leave Brazil now?) they repealed Prohibition and Congress is no longer needed to declare war. It doesn’t seem likely if we left Congress in place, we would get any more expansive a health care bill, and maybe if we threw the Congressional budget into the hopper, it would free up some money to rescue Social Security.
So what’s the downside? Would we be losing our cherished system of checks and balances? Not really. What has become increasingly clear in the last decade is: the Supreme Court likes the constitution just the way the Founding Fathers wrote it with their quill pens. So any laws Congress makes has to pass the litmus test of whether or not Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and the other boys would have approved. And if anything not specifically mentioned in that revered document, comes up they can usually find a link with that revered document. It’said theCourt made its decision in favor of a corporation being considered a “person” for purposes of political contribution, when Justice Scalia found an “inc” spot after John Hancock’s name.
As far as the President goes, he should stay, if only to communicate with foreign countries, participate in summits and see that the laws made by the recently departed Congress are followed. The advantages to the President would be huge. He/she could talk directly to “The American People,” invite them one by one into the White House if he/she liked; and without having to deal with Congress, could at last spend his/her time solving our country’s problems.
It’s not surprising that during the recent budget negotiations, when all options were supposed to be on the table, this idea of eliminating Congress , was never even discussed. After all, no prisoner was ever asked to chop off his own head. Still, one can only hope, with so many realists now in Congress pledged to solve our economic problems without raising taxes, they will bite the bullet (even though they will no longer be covered for dental care) and ask the question many of us are asking now: how much do you think the Sam Raeburn Office Building would go for on the open market?