Lame ducks quack, quack, quack
Don't expect much from the 107th Congress. This lame duck session could well be filled with plenty of quacks but not much pecking for the well being of the citizens of this country. Senator Dean Barkley of Minnesota could become a positive factor...
Don't expect much from the 107th Congress. This lame duck session could well be filled with plenty of quacks but not much pecking for the well being of the citizens of this country. Senator Dean Barkley of Minnesota could become a positive factor in all this with his tie-breaking vote, but Rome wasn't built in a day and Congressional maneuvering takes much longer, much, much longer.
Barkley was appointed by Gov. Jesse Ventura to fill the vacant seat of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone. Barkley opted not to caucus with either the Republicans or the Democrats, which leaves the Senate in control of the Democrats by one vote, using independent Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont to hold on to the Democratic majority. If, however, Barkley were to vote with the Republicans, the balance of power in the Senate would swing to the Republican side of the aisle.
Fortunately, all this will change later this month when Republican Jim Talent of Missouri is certified, replacing Sen. Jean Carnahan. After Jan. 1, the Republicans will control both houses of Congress and the White House without dispute. At least, good, bad or indifferent, gridlock will disappear for the moment. However, the 2004 campaigns are already on the drawing boards.
With a lame duck Congress currently in session, some very important issues are currently in limbo. For starters, as of Wednesday, there were only two of 13 annual spending bills that have been passed and sent to President George W. Bush for his signature. Two of 13! Nonsense is putting it mildly but, unfortunately, that is the way Congress works. The importance of budgeting the nation's resources and providing the money to support the budget generally plays second fiddle to the "politics as usual" stance of our political leaders. The number one rule in Congress is to work against the other party. No matter what legislation is introduced, if the majority doesn't introduce it, it is presumed to be bad legislation and the wrath of the majority is used to defeat such efforts. With parliamentary maneuvering, fancy sidestepping and outright indignation for logic, our legislative machinery grinds to a stop.
In January 2003, the Republicans will manage the White House and both the Senate and House of Representatives for the first time in 50 years. Notice I said manage, not control. This, I believe, is the key to all this. If Republican leaders recognize the opportunity that awaits them and then, using common sense and patience, attempt to service the general public with a solid legislative effort, many a head will turn. It could be a refreshing start to a whole new era in politics. Unfortunately, don't bet on it. Legislative styles just don't change over night. The game playing is part of the plan, and the opportunity to stand tall in the majority and throw rocks is just too appealing.
Looking at all this from the eyes of a citizen seems so clear. America is at war with terrorism. Even before the Sept.11 attacks, we were starting to see some leaks in our economic dike. After the attacks, the American airline industry nearly drowned in red ink. Let us hope new leadership in Congress will use logic, not pique in their efforts.
Dick Palmer is the former editor and publisher of the Budgeteer News. He may be reached by telephone at 729-6470 or by e-mail at email@example.com .