The Agitator #45
by Oliver_Halle
 The Agitator
October 08, 2012 08:44 AM | 1227 views | 5 5 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Everyone knows the story of President Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neil fighting during the day and then quietly meeting after 5 p.m. to get down to the real business of moving legislation.  Reagan had more legislative successes with a Democratic House than Jimmy Carter did, and this was probably because of the people skills needed to make things happen.  It may not have hurt, either, that a little “oil” was sipped at these gatherings.  The important thing is that the ball moved downfield toward the goal line, and both leaders could go back to their respective party leaders without being ostracized, threatened with impeachment, finding themselves with a primary opponent, or otherwise being marginalized.  

What has changed?  One of the biggest causes has been changing the lines to redistrict congressional seats.  Today you have congressmen who represent overwhelming majorities in their districts.  Why should they have to work for your vote?  Phil Gingrey and Tom Price each have a Democrat running against them in November.  I’ll be surprised if either doesn’t get between eighty to eighty-five percent of the vote.  John Lewis in Atlanta has never had a serious challenger.  They aren’t the only ones.  This is a nationwide phenomenon.  And I think it is fair to ask what legislative accomplishments of note Gingrey has had?  Lewis has held his seat for almost 25 years, and while he was a major player in the civil rights movement and is called the conscience of the House, does anyone know of any meaningful legislation that bears his name?  Why should these and other representatives work for your vote if they know the voters will always support you because of your ideology and not anything you have done?  In fact, they don’t.  Their mailings increase, and they may do a few more town hall meetings around election time, but you can be sure that they are busy dialing for dollars, always in fear of drawing an opponent and always trying to scare one off with a big campaign war chest.  Meanwhile, little of substance gets done and the American people end up with a situation like the one that is about to bring our country down: sequestration.

After Senator Richard Lugar, Republican from Indiana lost his seat in the primary, conservative radio talk show host Eric Erickson gloated and promised that Saxby Chambliss could expect a Tea Party opponent in 2014.  This was because Chambliss dared to try and reach some sort of compromise with the Democrats to dig us out of our financial predicament.  Compromise, reaching across the aisle, are considered treason today.  Ideology reigns supreme and renegades get punished.  Democrats want more taxes to increase revenue in return for spending cuts.  Republicans only want spending cuts.  And Grover Norquist, the Californian who somehow gets even state legislators of the other 49 states to sign his pledges to never vote to raise taxes, holds up the pledge to any Republican that dares to compromise, and threatens to bring him down.  

No one wants spending cuts that effect them; no one wants to pay more taxes.  Something has got to give.  We have one presidential candidate promising to restore the Bush tax cuts, adding his own tax cuts on top of that, increasing defense spending, restoring $760 billion in Medicare cuts, and not providing any details other than some abstract explanation that somehow it’s all going to work out.  We are truly a nation in deep trouble.  Let the finger pointing continue, but until reason prevails and both sides see what Reagan and O’Neill saw, our memories will be all that’s left of better times than these. 
Comments
(5)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Lib in Cobb
|
October 11, 2012
Cobb: OK, you have listed two bills which have passed, not an outstanding average of bills submitted to bills passed. McConnell, Boehner and Ryan pledged to work toward President Obama serving only one term It is not the job of a member or members of congress to establish a false sense of failure on a president. Their job is to represent the people, which includes coming to an agreement which may benefit all of us. The GOP side of congress is doing just the opposite.
CobbCoGuy
|
October 10, 2012
Hi Lib,

Actually, some stuff has passed, e.g., the JOBS Act and the recent transportation/student loan bills. That said, these bills and other "jobs" bills are nothing but duct tape.

We have structural problems that can only be addressed if the Senate and House sit down and iron out a budget. A budget will force the difficult and possibly unpopular issues facing us. A budget will get it all out in the open for public comment.

The Senate has abdicated their responsibility to govern by not putting forth a budget resolution.

Working together?

Three days in office and Obama called congressional leaders into the White House. Eric Cantor put forth some modest proposals. Obama's response was [paraphrased], "Elections have consequences, and...I won." That doesn't set a good tone.

Agreed, Senator McConnell said something to the effect of limit Obama to one term, but it was said late in 2010. Obama made his "my way or the highway", so to speak, statement in Jan 2009. Do you think that is reaching across the aisle? Do you think that is in keeping with Obama's statement, again paraphrased, "there are no red states, there are no blue states, there are the United States?"

Mr. Halle,

Hearings. That's what the congress does, like it or not, and we can both wag our fingers to the left and right. You could be correct; wait until the State Department and FBI conclude their investigations. See what happens. Works for me.

But, really, you see it as the Republicans are not trying to work with the Democrats? Au contraire, it is the Democrat Senate! See above.

I know I continue to harp on the budget process, but the budget, and the budget process, is, the negotiation, and the Republican House cannot negotiate with nothing. The budget process forces choices and tradeoffs, it imposes a discipline, it sets the legislative landscape for the upcoming year. The Senate must do their part, and they are not.

We are now living in budgetary chaos and it simply cannot continue.
Oliver G. Halle
|
October 10, 2012
Lib in Cobb, I couldn't agree more with you. I won't argue with the need for the Senate to pass a budget, but the Republicans seem to have a lot of other priorities that aren't doing much for the American people. There are already State Department and FBI investigations into the killing of our ambassador, so why are Republicans holding hearings on it? Could it be that it is for political gain instead of trying to work with Democrats on getting a budget? Same for other diversions. Stay tuned: nothing is likely to happen as we get closer to going over the fiscal cliff. Winning elections/reelectons is much more important to the people who have our fate in their hands.
Lib in Cobb
|
October 10, 2012
How many bills has the Republican controlled House blocked in the last two years which would have made a difference in our economic recovery? How much time was wasted in the House voting on the Affordable Care Act in the last two years?

CobbCoGuy, you have mentioned multiple times here about your discontent with the Senate and the lack of a budget, yeah we know. You have never mentioned the goal of the Republicans who are working only for one reason which is to limit President Obama to one term. These men and women are not representing the people, the very job which they were elected to do.
CobbCoGuy
|
October 09, 2012
"Something has got to give."

I could not agree more and you bring up excellent points about redistricting, ideology, and such; but those factors are ancillary.

The Democratic controlled Senate has not brought a budget resolution to the floor in over three years. The Republican controlled house has their budget, but until the Senate comes to the table, and comes to the table WITH A BUDGET, it will be impossible for any negotiating to take place.

THAT...is the deadlock.
Oliver Halle of east Cobb is a retired FBI agent and has law degrees from The University of North Carolina and New York University. He commanded a Swift Boat in Vietnam, where he earned the Bronze Star with the Combat V for meritorius action. While with the FBI he helped investigate and prosecute members of the Columbo organized crime “family” and later launched the investigation that resulted in the conviction on corruption charges of Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell.

Other Blogs: