The date August 4, 2011, and the fact that it coincided with President Barack Obama’s 50th birthday, will be long remembered by historians and political pundits. On that date the stock market took a 518 point collapse that represented an international and domestic repudiation of the Obama presidency, his administration, and the failure of Congress to function effectively.
Historians such as Doris Kerns Goodwin and Michael Beschloss will be writing about Obama probably when his term ends, and other historians will be writing about this period of turmoil for decades to come. In an interview on cable last week Doris Kerns Goodwin stated that she felt part of the current economic problems stem from the fact that congeniality has vanished from the Washington political/social scene, and may be the root of ineffective governance.
History has proven that political infighting has long been harsh; however there was far greater civility years ago. Members of Congress were paid less, did not have special health care privileges along with other perks, worked longer hours, more days per week, and were in session more frequently than is the current pattern. Congress usually works two and a half to three days per week when in session and many members then fly out of Washington back to their Districts to raise campaign funds for their re-election campaigns or go on a trip junket that a someone else pays for (think trade associations, lobbyists, etc.)
A perfect example of Congressional ineffectiveness and inefficiency occurred a week ago when they rushed against the clock to resolve the Debt Relief resolution, and adjourned before resolving its differences on the FAA funding. The dash to get on with the Congressional August recess caused the government to lose an estimated $400 million and about 70,000 to temporarily lose their jobs and delay work on many airport projects.
With unemployment above 9%, and jobs being a national priority how could the Members of Congress ignore their responsibility to resolve the FAA debate? When the American people spoke loudly Speaker Harry Reid (D-NV) found a way to resolve the problem after the losses by exercising a Continuing Resolution, which could have already been done to prevent the entire mess to begin with. Now the whole problem will be kicked down the road for another 30 days and the fight will occur all over again when Congress returns.
No wonder 70% of Americans want to clean house in Congress. With the stock market free fall the last three weeks (more than 2,000 points) may indicate he will become a one-term President. No wonder Obama’s hair is getting grayer every day, and if things continue he could be totally gray by November 2012, because he refuses to change his socialist income redistribution, class warfare agenda.
Congress must dramatically reduce the frequency of its vacations, staying in session conducting the vital work of the nation. They cannot govern better if they do not know one another better. Civil rhetoric must prevail and vitriolic comments subside and that just might assist in resolving complicated problems.
A good start would be to keep Congress in session, reduce their travel budget by a minimum of 50% immediately, and cut salaries there by 20%. The voters have been feeling the economic pain for the last ten years (slight or no wage increases, increased health care costs, much higher gasoline costs, food costs, etc.).
I think we should clean the swamp. Hopefully, there are at least a few Members of Congress worth keeping. That is left for voters to decide in next year's primaries and the November 2012 election.