A few resolutions for those running the showHere are a few resolutions for those driving the agenda in Congress, for Chip Cravaack, and for Amy Koch, that might truly help brighten my new year.
I’ve never been totally clear on the attraction of making New Year’s Resolutions, in large part because any resolution worth doing is worth starting long before New Year’s Day rolls around.
Every year, though, my family gathers to write resolutions. Because anything of immediate importance or interest is something I’ve already started to do, my resolutions become a “to do” list of all the things that I’d like to do, but which aren’t pressing. Last year’s list, for example, included removing the backyard stump that we’ve identified as whiffle ball second base for four or five years.
Come to think of it, removing second base was on the list in 2010 and 2009 too. Maybe this will be the year it finally gets done.
Of course, the fact that my own itches are too minor to be scratched doesn’t mean I don’t have a few pet peeves that I think others should fix. So here are a few resolutions for those driving the agenda in Congress, for Chip Cravaack, and for Amy Koch, that might truly help brighten my new year.
First, Congress’ approval ratings have managed to sink to a record low of 11 percent, in part because even the most minor actions end up as major partisan fiascos, while actions of significance are impossible. So this year I urge Congress to resolve to accomplish something important, although almost anything will be an improvement.
Congress’ lack of accomplishments has been largely due to the Tea Party faction in the House, which mainly negotiates by taking its ball and going home. Tea Partiers have insisted that deficit reduction is a huge priority. Twice this year liberals and moderates proposed to negotiate plans for reducing the deficit by $4 trillion, including entitlement reform. Twice this year, Tea Partiers pushed back against the $4 trillion deals, and settled instead for about $1 trillion in deficit reduction each time.
Perhaps the Tea Partiers, many of whom are rookies, haven’t learned that if the goal is deficit reduction, then when your opponent offers $4 trillion, you counteroffer for $6 trillion and compromise for $5 trillion. For next year, I suggest that Tea Partiers in the House resolve to learn the art of negotiation, so that by negotiating they get more of what they want, instead of less.
Our own Tea Partier, Chip Cravaack, promised to stay in touch with constituents, and that’s a promise he’s kept. While keeping in touch, it usually doesn’t take Cravaack long to refer to costly “job killing regulatory actions” of the Environmental Protection Agency, which he is “trying to beat back.” Cravaack sometimes reinforces his statements with questionable industry-produced cost figures.
A more thoughtful, or trustworthy, person would offset regulatory costs against the price of disease and lost economic opportunity and medical bills, due to the lack of regulation. Yet Cravaack rarely, if ever, mentions the benefits of regulation.
In one case, regarding the EPA’s Transport Rule, the estimates of benefits are up to 10 times greater than Cravaack’s industry-supplied cost estimates. So for this year, I propose that Cravaack quit working as a publicly paid industry lobbyist, and instead resolve to tell us both sides of the cost-benefit equation, using information from the most credible sources.
One person who I dream might now be better able to see both sides of an issue is Minnesota senate majority leader Amy Koch, who has supported the anti-gay marriage amendment to the state constitution that we will vote on next fall. Now that Koch’s affair with a Senate staffer has come to light, we can see why the sanctity of marriage must be protected.
Except that it already is. Koch’s indiscretion is punishable in Minnesota Statute 609.36 by up to a year in prison and a $3000 fine.
No doubt Koch thinks that protecting the sanctity of marriage by denying her freedom for a year is a bad idea. Protecting the sanctity of marriage by denying the freedom of homosexuals is an equally bad idea. Koch should resolve this year to vote against her own amendment.
Unfortunately, obstructionism, one-sided issue advocacy, and hypocrisy seem to not be problems for many of our elected officials. I’m pretty sure none of my concerns rate as an itch worthy of scratching.
My chances of removing second base from my back yard are much greater.
Budgeteer columnist Pete Langr writes once a month in the Budgeteer. Contact him at email@example.com.