Saturday, August 7, 2010

Why Congress really really sucks

Jon Stewart is a comedian. And he's often funny. And this video is funny, and sad. But we have a fundamental problem in Congress. The folks who are there, are more concerned with scoring political points than actually getting anything done.

I'm not sure of all the circumstances surrounding this bill, but it wouldn't surprise me if the Democrats are specifically bringing this bill to the floor to help them politically during the long summer of an election year.

Regardless, it's a pretty good bill. If my understanding is correct, it would give lifetime health care coverage to the folks who helped out at ground-zero immediately following 9/11. Sounds great, and it is.

One crux of the problem was that in order to pay for the measure (a good idea), Democrats proposed a "new tax" that would prevent foreign-registered companies from avoiding taxes on income earned in the U.S. This, also, seems fine to me. It's essentially closing a tax loophole.

However, Republicans took issue with the tax. It was rumored that they were going to motion to recommit which would have sent the bill back to committee and would have asked that the bill be paid for by other means (e.g. from the health care legislation that was passed early this year). Further, the Republicans introduced an amendment that would prevent any of this money from going to illegal immigrants.

In order to prevent ANY Republican amendments, Democrats used a procedure that requires a 2/3 vote rather than a majority vote and the measure failed. 

So that's the set-up. Let me be clear that Democrats are playing politics here. This is a great bill to bring to the floor during an election year. Further, they were probably not too upset about Republicans making a stink over it and voting it down because it looks really bad for the GOP (I could be wrong, but that's my hunch). So, what the Democrats did here really bothers me.

What bothers me more is what the Republicans did. They took a good bill that was paid for and injected the immigration issue into it. You know what, I doubt illegals were at ground-zero helping out, but if they were, I wouldn't mind them getting health care for the health problems they contracted while helping us out in our time of need.

That's bad enough, but Republicans took this further. The real sin here was their opposition to closing the tax loophole. Some segments of our political establishment act like tax evasion is something to be smiled upon and encouraged. My perspective is that corporations that earn money here should have to pay U.S. taxes.

Finally, it seems disingenuous to me to threaten to overload a bill with amendments and then cry foul when the opposition out-maneuvers those attempts and forces you to vote "no."

While I don't agree with everything Jon Stewart said in his segment, the final portion of the sketch does resonate with me. Republicans need to come out and state unequivocally that they are more concerned about the welfare of corporations than average folks like you and me, or quit stonewalling measures that rein in corporate greed. On the other hand, Democrats need to stand up for what they believe in and not hide behind procedural trickery, or accept that they'll never get anything done and will continue to be bullied by their opponents.

1 comment:

  1. Could not agree more. This is a perfect example of just how ridiculous the political game is at this moment. I almost wish every state was like Nevada and had a category on the ballot to vote for "Neither Candidate." If a majority in any place would vote for neither it would be quite the blow to the over polarized, 2 party system we have at the moment.
    I am especially disappointed with the Democrats who should be able to do great work right now, but can not even work together because of the politics.
    I just hope that the Democrats can kind of pull it together before this fall and focus on actually forcing the Republicans to show just exactly they are going to do things differently than Bush. This Show blew me away when I watched it 2 weeks ago.