Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Bacon Bits and Your Congress

Members of Congress are home during the August recess and facing not-so-surprisingly hostile crowds over the health care legislation debate (actually, it’s INSURANCE they’re debating, lest we become confused. I wrote about this earlier). It is certain that most members of the Congress would expect a tough sell on nearly every level. And partisan politics being what it is, there is a lot of misinformation out there because Democrats AND Republicans are being less than honest with their constituents only in the hopes of scoring some cheap political points. Make no mistake: both sides stand accused of using scare tactics and of being obstructionist, and neither side is being completely honest or forthright in what is even on the table. Why? Because most members of Congress have no real idea of what the 1,000 + pages of this contested legislation contain.

There is another factor that is contributing to the hostility of constituents that members of Congress seem oblivious to: their collective approval rating is floating at right around 30%, depending on the poll. This means 70% of voting Americans do not trust the Congress, and it may be the bulk of this 70% that is showing up at these town hall meetings. Sad to say that since it is said that most members of Congress have not had time to even read the legislation, they are exposing themselves to questions they are unable to adequately answer. Give them credit for having the guts to do such a foolish thing, of course, but also consider that they are counting on voters’ traditionally short memories; mid-term elections are not for another whole year. That’s plenty of time for them to bring home a little extra “bacon” to turn voters’ attention away from the big picture. Think of it. Stimulus money to build a new community center … with a candy machine … and chips … and maybe some chairs. Ohhhh, shiny baubles and trinkets. And then see this new “stimulated” community center close down shortly thereafter for lack of funds to maintain and operate it.

These are the things we continually vote to keep in our lives as we continually reelect the same representatives and senators. In addition to these little “bacon bits”, they now propose to create a whole new spending program they cannot define or defend except to play with voters’ emotions by reminding them of the 45 million Americans who have no health insurance. Grossly short of facts and figures, these members of Congress depend on political advisors to help them get through the tough times so that come election time, they will know which buttons to push.

Many voters hesitate to allow a new campaign to gain much traction against an incumbent for no reason other than the adage, “better the devil you know”. Seasoned incumbents also hammer home the mantra that “experience” will always rule the day and serve us well, and voters forget that this “experience” has gotten us where we are today: $11 trillion in the hole and a deficit that is as large as the federal budget with little hope of improvement because the issue of jobs is being largely ignored. No jobs means no taxpayers. No taxpayers means no revenue. No revenue means no budget. Yet the budget continues to grow, and spending will virtually explode if government-funded health insurance (insurance the president and members of Congress will not participate in, mind you!) becomes a reality.

Listen to your congressman as he (or she) comes a-callin’. And then advise them to enjoy their last year in office. And then do the right thing: take back YOUR Congress.

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