It seems that these days, Congress takes a few breaks each year from legislating on important topics like who can marry who and baseball to bicker over some massive piece of legislation. This legislation is always claimed to be crucial to the continuation of society as we know it (sometimes it really is!), and has a deadline for doom avoidance. For months we see news anchors biting their nails over which side is going to win and whether it will pass in time to avert disaster. When will the deal happen?
The answer is always the same: It will pass. It will pass because if it doesn’t, the legislators will lose money like the rest of us, their constituents will abandon them, and the populace will make what remains of their now final term really unpleasant. Sure, some will vote the other way, but all they need is a majority.
Why do they wait? Why not just make a deal early on and be done with it? Because somebody has to lose, in fact, most of us have to lose.
Our problems are too big to solve in a way that makes everyone happy. Take the budget for example. Taxing the rich isn’t nearly enough (and it makes them not rich, so it’s a short term solution), reducing the military is slow and more expensive in the short term than leaving it alone, and the problem needs to be solved now. Raising taxes on the middle class just shifts the overwhelming burden to another group who can’t bear it, without fixing the core problem, and the middle class are the majority of the voters. Stimulus is not much more than smoke and mirrors, and costs money we don’t have. Spending cuts cause outrage among those who are being cut and their sympathizers.
So what’s a politician to do? It’s pretty simple really. Put on a good show. Bang your fist on the podium, cry, point the finger at the other guys, all the while drilling home the point that the deadline of doom is approaching. The most important part is that you don’t make a deal until the clock has nearly run out. If you wait until the very end, you can vote something in that appears to address the problem and helps out your biggest donors (you know, the insurance companies, banks, the unions, and the military industrial complex). Then you go to the American people and you tell them that the other guys put the bad stuff in there, but you had to pass it to avert catastrophe because the deadline was up. If you make the deal early, they will claim you should have kept fighting, and that you sold out.
How do we fix the system?
- Take on problems in smaller bites. Deadlines should be staggered rather than overwhelming. Bills should be mandated to be short and legible.
- Transparency. These people are public servants and we should be allowed to hear what they say on our behalf. All discussions should be on public record.
- Our taxes are a percentage of our earnings, so funding should be percentage based as well. That way, when revenue goes down, spending automatically matches it without the need for an emergency vote.
- Stop taxing the trade of Dollars for gold and silver. It’s Constitutionally legal tender and allows people to shield themselves from the toxic inflationary effects of Congressional irresponsibility.
- If you want the money out of politics, take away the power from politicians to choose winners and losers. Take away the mandated insurance, the mandated union memberships, the private military contractors, and the corporate bailouts, and the money will take itself out of politics.
“Son, if you can’t take their money, drink their whiskey, screw their women, and then vote against ’em, you don’t deserve to be here.” – Sam Rayburn, longst serving Speaker of the House