After the November elections, I wrote a piece concerning what the newly elected officials would do with their power and influence. Sadly, I was correct in my predictions.
So far, it’s been posturing and preening and doing things that have virtually nothing to do with the welfare of the people they are supposed to represent. In their zeal to give the illusion of doing something, they have promoted legislation and ideas that are counter to productive outcomes to benefit most citizens.
The essence of the problem is described quite ably by my colleague Allen Laughlin in his column from last week:
"I said to my students that the men responsible for creating this great country were not politicians, but statesmen in every sense of the word. They had everything to lose, including their lives, for a belief in liberty."
Today’s power-hungry, self-interested politicians pale in comparison, as they pass out our tax dollars to various connected constituencies under the mistaken belief that only they know what is best for us.
The Republicans went into office with trumpets blaring and flags waving, promising to do everything to get America moving again: create jobs, jobs, jobs and reduce the size of government.
Well, here are the bills our House of Representatives in Washington, with their new collection of Republicans and tea partiers, has presented so far:
• 16 bills to repeal all or parts of the Affordable Care Act.
• Seven bills/resolutions to require a balanced federal budget.
• Five bills to repeal the estate tax (which only benefits the super-wealthy).
• A bill to repeal Wall Street Reform.
• Six bills to restrict women’s access to abortions.
• A bill to take polar bears off the Endangered Species list.
• A bill to pull federal funding of public radio.
• Six bills and a resolution to increase oil drilling in the United States and to prevent federal regulation of greenhouse gases.
• A bill to remove certain federal restrictions on interstate firearms transactions.
• A bill to prohibit paying salaries of "czars" and a resolution that they should be required to get Congressional approval.
• A bill to prevent U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants from being designated as U.S. citizens.
• A bill to allow employers who provide health insurance to count that toward their minimum wage compensation.
• A bill to prevent the federal government from regulating the Internet.
• A bill to permanently reduce individual income tax rates.
• A bill to require a state government’s approval of national monument creation in its state.
• A bill to require the heads of all four branches of the military to sign off on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell before it can be implemented.
• A bill to rename two buildings after Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
• A bill to require that Gitmo be kept open and that only military commissions be used to try the inmates held there.
• A bill to prevent the posting of signs indicating work being done/paid for under the Recovery Act.
• A resolution to repeal the 16th Amendment, which gives the federal government the power to tax incomes.
I ask: "When will you be sponsoring a jobs bill?"
Republicans have been hammering the Democrats and President Barack Obama for the past two years about jobs and the economy. You would think they’d be ready to promote their job-creating agenda from the start. But, as you can see, they have other priorities.
Our Texas governor just gave the State of the State address where he extolled the virtues of what passes for conservative politics here while shaking his verbal fist at our federal government. From one fork of his tongue he tells us how great the country is and how proud we Texans are to be part of it. On the other fork he rails at Washington for trying to enforce its laws by which the Constitution says states must abide.
As Mr. Laughlin suggests, these behaviors are not the work of statesmen. It is the work of political hacks elected by a tiny fraction of the people who vote for them. Until a super-majority of our eligible citizens get out and vote, we can expect more of this rubbish, if not worse.
Turner is a retired teacher and industrial engineer who lives near Marble Falls. He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.