My Irish Up: Your tax dollars at ‘work’ (lol)

Mike Corrigan

Mike Corrigan

By Mike Corrigan

BN Columnist

I try to keep up with everything that the Congress is not doing, but it’s difficult. The main challenge of such a pursuit is to stay awake through endless weeks of not hearing our elected representatives not debating the great questions of the day, and then to watch them not deciding what they are not going to do about them.

I have found it more illuminating to just wait for the end of the session and then check back to see if I’ve missed anything. I get the feeling that the Congressmen do this too.

It’s not like there’s nothing important for Congress to talk about — Wall Street chicanery and banking fraud, trade deficits, whether we should have the plutocracy we have now or the democracy the Founders intended, preventive war, energy policy, climate change, out of control drone use, torture, and so on — all of these beg for potent, active, considered solutions, or at least some discussion. But nothing is ever done. Ever! It took six long weeks for Congress to come up with the funds to help drain and dry out New York City after the Battery found itself a few feet underwater for several days. (If Washington ever ends up under such a flood, I vote we provide special pumps that will work day and night to keep it that way forever.)

And now they’ve manufactured a debt crisis, so that we can learn a new word, “sequester.” Listen, bozos in Congress: the debt exploded because the economy crashed, period. America collected less in taxes because people made less, and we paid out more because so many were out of work. It’s as simple as that. But do we spend our time discussing things like jobs, a sensible national energy policy, etc.? No! That would be sane.

Most any time, you can turn on C-SPAN (“Voted Two Out of the Last Three Years Nearly as Riveting As The Crocheting Channel”) and see a gripping live feed from the U.S. House of Representatives that looks and sounds something like this:

High shot. Four hundred and thirty-five seats arrayed in a forum, all but five or six of them empty. Occasionally, someone, possibly a lost tourist, saunters in from the wings and hands the chairman a piece of paper and then ambles out again. The crawl loops this message: “Filibuster by Rep. Jolly Blowlightly, R-Colo.”

Rep. 1: Point of order, Mr. Speaker; where exactly is the Representative from Colorado?

Speaker: In Colorado, where else?

Rep. 1: He is filibustering the House from two thousand miles away?

Speaker: Just because you can’t see his lips moving doesn’t mean he isn’t talking.

At this point, when you could cut the tension with a loaf of bread, a runner hands the Speaker yet another piece of paper. He glances at it and sighsNothing moves. The ominous ticking of a clock can just be made out over the thunder of papers shuffling and the distant echo of the government printing money.

It gets more animated “in committee,” in that you can tell just by looking at them that the participants are still alive. These days, Congress actually only debates issues in those two areas that are at the very cornerstone of the U. S. Constitution and the American way of life. These areas are, of course: (1) sex and (2) violence. The debate might be whether any person ought to have the right to marry whomever he or she chooses, including particularly eligible squirrels; or at what month, precisely, the life of a fetus becomes more important than the life of the mother; or how many gross of assault weapons any one law-abiding citizen ought to be able to buy at a time for “recreational use,” or perhaps just to exercise his right to establish his own private militia and overthrow a tyrannical government that has trouble even getting a quorum.

It’s almost as if there is no actual Constitution anymore, only a stand-alone, free-floating Bill of Rights.

No matter how long it talks about things, Washington refuses to actually do anything. Take the famous “fiscal cliff,” which I’m beginning to get the feeling I'm standing at the bottom of. Sightings are made of the cliff every couple of months, but actual “solution” of the trumped-up crisis keeps getting pushed back, first from August, on to December, then to January, and now bravely on into the spring. There’s no sense in solving real problems when you can just not solve made-up ones.

Well, in Washington, cans will be kicked down the road — but there are some particular cans most Americans would rather kick, these days. Congress’s approval rating now stands well below that of the ebola virus. Hey, Congress is more sickening.

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