Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dear Congress

On the eve of our country's possible financial ruin, the American people would like to answer a few of your questions about why your approval rating is lower than a snake's belly.

1. We want government to work. When we voted the Democrats out of office, it was not because we don't like the party line, it was because even with a majority, the Democrats failed to do what we asked of it: accomplish change. Healthcare reform did not reform healthcare. Cost containment that many viewed as the most central part of the problem, was not even part of the package. Nor, was any kind of tort reform. Banking reform did not reform banking. Despite turning a blind eye to unconscionable lending practices for years, granting mortgages to totally unqualified individuals, banks bought enough influence through you, to retain their "too big to fail status". Taxpayers bailed them out. No one was sanctioned and no one went to jail. Now, big banks still control all the money for small business loans and home mortgages with little oversight.
Republicans need not be surprised when you get voted out in the next round. We face an unprecedented crisis generated solely to suit the agenda of the Tea Party. Ronald Reagan would not be in this situation and history tells us, he did the right thing for the country. The current debt ceiling cannot and should not be extended under a situation in which one class bears the entire burden of cleaning up our collective misdeeds. The elderly and infirm did not cause this financial problem. A fair solution is needed and the Republicans are clearly not dealing in good faith. A compromise means both parties must leave their absolutes at home. The center has collapsed in this country and the only people making noise, are shouting about their "brand". "You can't touch Social Security". "You can't raise taxes." Can't or Won't is a question that needs to be asked far and wide.

2. We can't bribe our way out of this problem. Everyone talks about saving the middle class but no one does anything about it. Cash-rich banks don't lend. Small businesses can't get loans. Cash-rich insurance companies won't cover you. Cancer patients are quietly culled from the rolls to meet investor returns. Cash-rich monopoly utilities won't let renewable energy have a foothold. Solar, wind and biofuels, the kind that don't explode or cause massive environmental harm, languish by the wayside while we are surpassed by China, Japan and Germany. It's clear that the policies you put forth are being dictated by corporate giants with no personal culpability. So much money flows into Washington from sources outside of your congressional districts, that it dwarfs your own constituents' voices. A quick look at any of your contributors lists reveals where your loyalties are. Quid pro quo should be the new Congressional motto.

3. You CAN touch social security and you CAN raise taxes. No business can operate without adequate income or manageable expenses. We need both. Do you Republicans think that we don't see how hard you are trying to protect Exxon, Shell and Wall Street hedge-fund managers only to throw Mama from the train? Severe government cuts mean layoffs. Layoffs mean the unemployment rate goes up. We voted for you to create jobs not take them away. Guess what's going to happen in the next election? And Democrats, do you really think we believe that there is enough money to keep paying every single person with a government hand out? Or, that we are not worried about our national debt? Social Security has become a joke. You can even collect from your long divorced, dead-husband's account. We should have fixed this sacred cow long ago so that it can be sustainable. We are not so lazy that we can't work a few extra years too.

4. We can sacrifice if you ask us. After 9/11 George Bush told us all to go shopping. One of the saddest failures of leadership in American history. He didn't ask us to join the draft or kick in a little more for a 3 trillion dollar war. He just put it on the tab for someone else to pay. Did anyone in America not think the bill would come due eventually? In World War II, everyone pitched in. In 10 years, no one has ever asked us to contribute a dime or a hand to the war effort.
Today, we still are not being asked to sacrifice. We can and we will. But you can't expect us to respond if you only ask the middle class. World War II veterans are proud of their sacrifice and contribution to our nation's war effort. Following that war, we experienced on the of the longest periods of sustained prosperity and growth. What will happen when our military comes home from Iraq and Afghanistan?

5. We don't care who gets to be President in 2012. If an idea is good, it should be acted on. The fact that good ideas get shot down because it might help the other side is deplorable. America was founded on bright ideas, ingenuity and effort. Now we all want someone else to do the work. When President Kennedy started the moon shot initiative, the whole country got behind him, not just the Democrats.

6. Invest in us. Invest in small business. Invest in our infrastructure. Invest in our energy independence. If jobs are the issue, why are you still propping up the industries that limit free market competition? Small business drives our economy, yet big banks won't lend. Our infrastructure is crumbling yet construction workers, the kind that could repair roads, bridges and tunnels, sit idle and collect unemployment. We shuttered NASA, putting hundreds of scientists out of work but haven't replaced it with a National Renewable Energy Program.

7. Stop the filibuster. Congress was intended to work with a simple majority vote. The filibuster tactic is the single most evil gimmick ever devised to slow or stop government progress. It requires a super-majority to pass a law. Years ago congressmen had to stand before their chamber and speak continuously to maintain a filibuster. Now a box has to be checked and the person filibustering can remain anonymous. Government stonewalling at it's finest.

8. Fix redistricting. Every ten years after the census, district lines are redrawn. These lines bear no resemblance to natural, geographic boundaries,and deliver ideological voting patterns that divide us by race, income and religion. Entire districts have been drawn around a candidate's house simply to prevent him from running.

9. Make a real pledge. Instead of promising an extreme position on taxes or social security, let's have you tell us you won't take campaign money from outside your state. Most of you don't publish your email addresses or allow email communications from people who live out of state. This, you say, is to prevent outsiders from having a voice in your state. If we can't communicate with you, if we live out of state, then you have no business accepting contributions from others who live out of state in a pay to play scenario.

10. Apologize to the American people for your lack of vision and your refusal to compromise. If the economy goes over a cliff, you will all be called to account.

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