My Irish Up: Back to the stupidity

Mike Corrigan

Mike Corrigan

By Mike Corrigan

BN Columnist

Exhausted from an arduous schedule of raising millions of dollars so they can get elected again next year, the 113th Congress is about to go home.

Exhausted, in 2014 they plan on giving themselves 252 days off! Only! With Washington abandoned, activity in Congress could well pick up this Christmas, as workmen will refurbish the Chamber, the first practical work done there in months.

But the 113th has not been a complete Do-Nothing Congress. They did do something. For example, showing an aptitude for poetry, they boldly renamed a building at the Nashua, N.H. airport the Patricia Clark Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center. They manned up and designated a Missouri span the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge. Those were two of the 50 or so bills that actually managed to make it into law — though Congress didn’t quite find the gumption to pass an actual budget, or a road bill, or do anything to provide more jobs for Americans. In Congress’s defense, they did do something about jobs: the Republican sequester-and-shutdown dog-and-pony show will eventually cause the loss of hundreds of thousands of good government jobs with benefits, with ripple effects through the real economy — though those laid-off G-Men are now welcome to work at minimum wage and draw food stamps when they can’t make ends meet. No, wait, this just in — Congress did also boldly cut food stamps, too, because hey, just because you have a job doesn’t mean you get to eat, too.

Congress labored to produce little of value. For example 113-33, the “Denali National Park ‘Improvement’ Act” (internal quote marks, mine) enables high-pressure natural gas pipelines in Alaskan parklands. It also swaps in some new acreage whereupon sacred private mineral rights can be exercised, swapping out what is euphemistically now termed a “non-wilderness” area.

Congress capped the student loan interest rate to Treasury standards plus a few percent — though zero percent would have been fairer. Student loan debt now exceeds credit card debt in America. Those greedy kids! Just like those greedy laid-off federal and state and local government workers! This country is going to perdition, for sure. Thank God Congress is helping, huh?

Back to the stupidity. We’ll tax influenza vaccines now, though who that helps I don’t know. Pipeline Safety Regulations restrictions were “eased.” Congress “improved” the Job Opportunities for Veterans Act by reducing the amount vets will get for OJT, and extending the requirement for a reduced pension for vets’ Medicaid for another year. On the positive vets’ job front, governmental agencies (almost all of which are cutting jobs; see sequester) are to be non-bindingly on the lookout for those many new job openings our veterans can fill. The veterans thank you, Congress! They know you’re thinking of them. You should be warned that they are also thinking of you, and they may still be armed.

No bills were vetoed by the president last year. Probably didn’t want to kill the Congress’s barely-detectable initiative.

Oh, Congress also “concluded the privatization” — o frabjous day! — of the federal helium reserve. Undoubtedly this was done to benefit the over-heliumized American public, whose voices are apparently so high that they cannot be heard by human beings. Or by Congressmen, anyway.

Always a hard worker, Mike is considering a run for Congress. He’ll need a war chest, so send money.

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