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The sinking ship of Congress: A crying need for statesmen

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Every last person in agriculture should be foaming at the mouth, mad as hell at the farce that has been Congress’ ongoing wrangle over the farm bill. Everyone who needs, or will at some point need, medical care should be up in arms at the countless hours and millions of dollars our elected representatives have spent in futilely trying to derail the healthcare law.

Where have all the statesmen gone?

Who in today’s excuse for a Congress commands the respect for service, accomplishment, statesmanship of yesterday’s John Stennis, Herman Talmadge, Lindy Boggs, Dan Inouye, David Bowen, Bob Dole, Ed Jones, Robert Byrd, William Fulbright, Jay Rockefeller, Sonny Montgomery, to name a handful in a long list of earlier-era elected officials who gave meaning to the term public service?

Compare yesterday’s statesmen to today’s governing body that has, for a decade, accomplished little more than rancorous, partisan brinksmanship, and which in a most recent poll had a public approval rating of 10 percent — the lowest ever.

Is this the best we can do? Do these people, a healthy percentage of whom are millionaires and multi-millionaires, actually represent us and our interests, remotely identify with our concerns and problems? Were the current Congress a private company, would we hire any of them? Or spend the $2 billion or more it costs yearly to support them in royal style?

 

Ag Secretary Vilsack: Farm bill passage critical to ag research

 

The latest fiasco, a government shutdown, however brief or long, is just another example of a body that has put power, self-aggrandizement, and in-your-face obstructionism above working for the collective good.

Every last person in agriculture should be foaming at the mouth, mad as hell at the farce that has been Congress’ ongoing wrangle over the farm bill — yammer, yammer, pontificate, posture, bloviate, delay, leaving farmers, the nation’s needy, and vital programs in the lurch.

Everyone who needs, or will at some point need, medical care should be up in arms at the countless hours and millions of dollars our elected representatives have spent in futilely trying to derail the healthcare law — which is just that: law. And it will be so unless, until there is a change of ownership of the Senate/administration that will maybe, perhaps succeed in scuttling it (and won’t that be a holy mess, scrapping a program that has by then enrolled millions of new clients?).

Rather than squandering time and resources in pointless votes to kill it, why not act like the people’s representatives, and sit down together and figure out ways to make it work? That’s what statesmen would do.

No massive new government program is universally embraced. Social Security had a rocky start, but it has been the underpinning for our nation’s aged for decades; it has been — and would still be — a fiscally sound program if Congress hadn’t been looting its trust fund for other purposes. Medicare, at the start, was decried as socialism, but wrinkles were ironed out as it moved along, and it has been a salvation for the nation’s elderly and disabled who could not otherwise have access to healthcare (funneling billions of dollars into the coffers of the private medical establishment in the process).

Yes, there has been fraud and excess in Medicare, as with any government agency (military, EPA, education, etc.), or with private medicine for that matter — who hasn’t received an insurance statement showing charges for tests you know full well weren’t done or for supplies or services that weren’t provided?

But on the whole Medicare has worked well, has helped hold the line on healthcare cost inflation (notwithstanding the billions of dollars unnecessarily given to the pharmaceutical industry when the Bush administration refused to allow competitive bids for the Part D drug plan), and year-in year-out has had a high public approval rating.

 

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One can only wonder, in fact, why Medicare wasn’t used as the model to expand healthcare to everyone: a proven system already in place which, with some tweaking, could have worked well.

The farm bill and healthcare legislation boondoggles are but two of many examples of the ship of Congress listing drunkenly — and its Looney Tunes crew is doing little to get it aright.

 

Discuss this Blog Entry 2

on Oct 9, 2013

Wake me when it's over, and I'll see what I have left. It's unsettling and frustrating to watch all the blind Congressmen (and women) swarm the elephant, coming back with distorted reports. Sadly, we have chosen our representatives badly.

on Oct 10, 2013

Where were the statesmen when Obamacare was passed. If I remember correctly, not one Republican voted for it. The House, under Pelosi's leadership, simply accepted the Senate version without debating it (over the House Republican's very strong objections). This country is already broke. We cannot afford another program which adds trillions to the Federal government's (i.e. taxpayers) obligations. When Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, were first enacted, they seemed like wonderful programs. All three, which are ran by the federal and state governments, are now financial disasters. Arkansas' Democratic governor keeps telling us that drastic changes must be made to Medicaid or it will soon become an expense which we cannot pay. There will never be statesmenship in D.C. as long as the radical left of Obama, Reid and Pelosi are leading the Democratic party. As far as the farm bill, there are very few vital programs for the farmer. The vast majority of money in the farm bill allocated for welfare recipients. Put the welfare part in another bill or department so the American people can see how little is actually spent on agriculture.

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