Saturday, August 3, 2013

Congressional dysfunction starts at home

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds twelve of every 100 voters approve the job Congress does. What are those twelve smoking? The question is relevant. While there’s no polling on the question, the number of Americans using marijuana would signal that drug dealers most likely have higher job approval ratings than members of Congress.

Wouldn’t you like to know what those twelve percent think Congress is doing right? Perhaps they’re the same folks who attend NASCAR races hoping to see fiery wrecks or the fans going to hockey games for the fistfights. They’d probably enjoy watching snake-handlers and playing Russian roulette.

While the National Security Agency is collecting personal information on Americans, they should identify these people. Anyone willing to admit they believe Congress is doing a good job is a security risk. We have a “need-to-know” who these people talk to on their cellphones, what they watch on TV, websites they visit, and comic books they read.

A disproportionate number of those twelve-per centers are most probably Wyoming voters. How else can you explain the fawning responses when a member of our Congressional delegation appears on a local radio talk show or holds a so-called “town hall” meeting? Listening to their groupies, you’d think that neither Senators Enzi or Barrasso, nor Congressman Lummis play no role whatsoever in congressional dysfunction. You might conclude they are the solution to the problems all those other politicians have created.

Only 12% of the voters think Congress does its job. Sixty-percent believe all the rascals should be thrown out and replaced. But last year, John Barrasso was reelected with 76% of the vote, virtually an identical percent given Senator Mike Enzi when he last ran for reelection in 2008. US Representative Cynthia Lummis received almost 70% of the vote in 2012. There’s a rationality gap.

What is it the vast majority don’t like about Congress that these our congressmen different from their colleagues? Nothing. Voters claim to dislike the partisanship and gridlock. Wyoming’s congressional delegation can be counted on by their party to support the gridlock whether stopping a vote on legislation or blocking the confirmation of an appointee.

While in Wyoming Senator Barrasso says things like, “People need to work together, find areas of common ground, things we agree with." Back on the banks of the Potomac, he prides himself in being a part of his party’s efforts to block and blame.

Remember how angry voters were when Congress shut down the government rather than reach a compromise? Though a fellow Republican called it the “dumbest idea I’ve ever heard,” Enzi joined other Republicans in threatening another shutdown if Democrats don’t agree to repeal Obamacare, virtually assuring the nation’s economy will again be put at-risk because of the Republicans’ obsessive vitriol over healthcare reform.

Voters claim to be concerned about the relationship between congress and campaign contributors. Whether you’re the 12% who think favorably of congress or the 70% who voted for Lummis, you should check out, a website correlating the amounts and dates of campaign contributions with whether a congressman votes as the contributor wishes.

There you’ll find a list of opportunities for Lummis to take money one day and vote as the contributor asked the next. HR 2454, for example, was introduced in the 111th Congress to create clean energy jobs, achieve energy independence, and reduce climate change. On June 25, 2009, Alpha Natural Resources, one of America’s largest coal producers who opposed HR 2454, wrote two checks to the Lummis campaign for a total of $4,999, an odd figure suggestive of a need for further examination. On June 26th, Lummis voted as Alpha asked.

To be fair, there are times Lummis voted contrary to the desire of a contributor. Those votes are relatively few.

Voters set standards for other congressmen we won’t impose on our own. Do you really believe Congress is doing a poor job? Are you genuinely unhappy with the direction the country is headed? If so, the cleanup begins at home.

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