Thursday, January 24, 2008

Congressional fool's gold

On the first day of class my junior year of high school, my political science teacher scribbled this phrase on the blackboard:


After a few puzzled minutes, someone smarter than me finally deciphered the message. There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

A rudimentary lesson on balancing the federal budget followed. If the government wanted to increase its spending, it needed to raise its revenues. If it wanted to cut taxes, cuts in service needed to follow. In the end, the numbers couldn't be askew. In the end, someone paid.

I find myself thinking about Mr. Hoelscher's class a lot today, wondering what he thinks of the profound bipartisan failure about to occur on Capital Hill.

Democrats and Republicans embraced a tax rebate plan today that would refund $600 to every American taxpayer or $1,200 to every American taxpaying couple in an effort to apply a tourniquet to the ailing economy.

"Tens of millions of Americans will have a check in the mail," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said. "I'm looking for quick action in the House. I hope that the Senate will follow quickly so that we can put this money in the hands of middle-income Americans as soon as possible," Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) said.

Votes in the House and Senate are expected soon.

Look, I like the idea of an extra $1,200 in my pocket as much as the next guy. But this is fiscal insanity. The national debt is more than $9 trillion dollars. In the end, each American will need to pay more than $90,000 to even the ledger.

Any Passaic Valley junior could tell you that the feds either need to chop spending or raise taxes. Instead, leaders on both sides of the aisle give us this fool's gold.

This is perhaps the worst piece of bipartisan legislation encountered since Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, 98-2, in 1964. Much like that legislation walked us into an awful jungle war, today, both parties are about to walk us into a financial quagmire.

The difference? You can make the argument that the decade-long Vietnam struggle was unforeseen. Today, we fully understand the consequences of further fiscal imbalance.

I've come to expect such illogic from President Bush, who has cut taxes while dramatically increasing spending since 2000. But I'm equally disappointed in the Democrats.

They're too weak to block this dead dog masquerading as "economic stimulus." They're too cowardly to risk the repercussions of exposing the hollowness of that catchphrase in an election year. Like me in high school, they're pathetically desperate to look popular.

Madam Speaker is no longer in high school, though, and as an adult, should know better than to mishandle the massive responsibility the citizens have entrusted with her.

If she wants to find a true leader to emulate, she should look no further than the floor she shares with Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

And hey, since he was busy dropping out of the presidential race Thursday at about the same time Pelosi was patting herself and Boehner on the back in front of the news cameras, he probably has plenty of time to impart this lesson:

When Kucinich was Mayor of Cleveland in the early 1980s, he faced a drastic fiscal crisis as the city's rust-belt economy collapsed. Much like how Americans overwhelmingly favor their quick-fix cash right now, Clevelanders of that day overwhelmingly demanded he sell the municipal electric system to a private enterprise. The sale would reap a tidy profit that surely would have plugged a hole in his budget.

But he refused.

And his critics howled. So much so, in fact, that Kucinich barely survived a recall vote. Voters bounced him from office in the next election, and he endured a 10-year political banishment for this sin until his election as a state senator in 1994.

According to The Associated Press:
In 1994, Kucinich was elected state senator and he then won a seat in Congress in 1996. His once unpopular stand against the sale of the municipal electric system was praised as courageous. In 1998, the Cleveland City Council issued him a commendation for having the foresight to refuse to sell it.
Let's be clear I'm not endorsing Kucinich's already-failed presidential run, nor his policies, nor even necessarily him for this role. But we need a real Democratic leader in Congress.

Someone with the backbone to stand against the rising tide of incompetence and weak will.

Someone who can replace a short-sighted quick fix with long-term vision.

We need our one lone voice in the wilderness.

Where is our Wayne Morse today?


You would think the sports section would be the one segment of the media immune to the celebrity pseudo-nonsense passed around as journalism today.

But Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson have crept into coverage every Sunday for the last month or so -- ever since the Chicken of the Sea spokesperson showed up in the stands to show support for her new boyfriend.

It's embarrassing to watch my peers pander to this storyline. That's the bottom line.

Some would make the argument that there's a correlation with her arrival and Romo's dismal performance against the Eagles or a link between a quick trip to Mexico and Dallas' postseason loss against the Giants, and that therefore deems it a credible story.

If that's the case, then shouldn't we also know that left tackle Flozell Adams might have also had his ho/girlfriend/mistress/wife/significant other in the stands cheering him on against Philadelphia when he gave up two sacks?

Shouldn't we be concerned that center Marc Gurode, another one of the Romo guardians, might spent his days off gallivanting south of the border before botching a snap in the playoff game?

The Romo-Simpson stuff is a garbage storyline. I guess gutted newspapers have neither the staff nor inclination to do anything more than follow the herd down the path of least resistance.



At 8:39 AM, Blogger SJPSandman said...

It would be cool if Romo referred to Jessica as his "ho"

At 6:17 PM, Blogger Todd Cohen said...

As soon as I heard of the checks, I immediately figured bad things are ahead. If you look at each of the presidents during recent history, they each had SOME redeeming quality...Reagan (end of Cold War and nuclear fears) and the elder Bush (Persian Gulf War...even with its poor ending) were strong internationally and Clinton led during economic prosperity and left with one of the highest popularity ratings in nearly 50 years.

I can't think of one thing the current administration has done that would be deemed a positive. This only adds to that.

Couldn't agree more about the Romo story. The kid leads his team into a first round bye and decides to take a weekend off with his wench.

I must admit, I was happy to see the GMen knock them off....but I got even greater pleasure seeing the result bring tears to that jackass TO. As comedy's crown JEWel would say, "He's got so many issues that he's got a subscription."


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