So you’ve probably been wondering, what’s happened to the regular articles I had been publishing to rid the halls of Congress of the unproductive, inefficient and inept? Am I a fair-weather columnist who only writes when the frenzied excitement of a coming election reaches its pinnacle? Have I contracted a form of political Stockholm Syndrome and have actually become one of the political hacks that have been holding our government hostage?
With the Fiscal Cliff looming larger and larger on the horizon, people are complaining that it seems to be “business as usual” in Washington, that the election seems to have accomplished nothing. The Democrats and Republicans are still a good distance apart, no closer to a compromise, not really. Meanwhile, our lame (duck) President, rather than demonstrating constructive leadership, has said, “What the heck,” and is going for broke, both figuratively and literally.
The great American Middle Class is shrinking? Are we each, individually getting smaller? No, although there are some days lately when it feels like it. We’re losing income and wealth. While the precise definition of “Middle Class” is a bit fuzzy, what is clear is that this protracted recession is hurting everyone, some more than others, but everyone. And the effects for many of us are serious and long-lasting, the kind that take years, maybe even a generation or more, to reverse.
Ben Bernanke, 14th Chairman of the Federal Reserve
Thursday, August 9, 2012
The really great thing about writing your own blog is the boldness of it, the way you can say things – talk about big, important ideas that other people, professional politicians in this case, and their advisors, have spent all matter of time thinking about – as if you really know what you’re talking about. I love it, and I do. …Actually, I’m nowhere nearly as confident as what I write sometimes sounds. My primary objective is to get our elected representatives and their challengers thinking, to open up their minds and focus on solving problems rather than just bickering about them. If I make some headway toward that end, then I did good and “The Next Contestant” wasn’t a waste of time.
In three months, we Maryland voters have the option of re-electing or replacing all 8 of our Representatives and one of our Senators. Elections being a really big deal, I thought it appropriate to ask myself, “To what extent is it necessary for someone to be representative of the people who elected him or her in order to represent them?”
Candidates for Congress and the Presidency, both incumbents and challengers, tend to talk in generalities. “We need more jobs!!” Really? “If only we could ask the rich to pay a little more,” or from the other side of the aisle, “A recession is no time to increase anyone’s taxes!” Unbelievable, isn’t it. Even when they elaborate in their position statements, the points they make are more likely to be superficial than identify the specific economic tools they recommend and explain precisely how those tools should be applied.
I’m a registered Independent, an equal opportunity critic of both parties. When I was growing up, I was taught that the distinction between Republicans and Democrats was that the Republicans were pro-business, while the Democrats were pro-labor.
It’s gotten to the point that a dysfunctional Congress (the President included) has become our most important problem – more important even than the economy because, unless and until Congress becomes functional, it’s not going to deal effectively with any of the critical economic, fiscal and social issues we’re facing.