No, wedge issue. Not wedge salad.
That was what I said during a conversation last Friday (mostly in jest) about eliminating Daylight Saving Time and how such a proposal would make it through Congress. I don’t know even know how it would happen and which side folks would take, but if such a proposal was ever seriously considered, somehow it would become wildly controversial along party lines. Then as it so happened, during his “new rules” segment on an airing of “Real Talk”that night, Bill Maher asked ‘why is everything so political?’ (including pointing out that ‘I believe in science’ is now fighting words).
I really do think the situation, at least as it relates to Congress, has deteriorated severely over the last few years. It has gotten to the point, as I understand it, that the two sides don’t even talk to one another anymore (which is kind of a necessity to reach any sort of agreement on anything). I thought it might be fun to review the ridiculous issues that have arisen in recent years because there is no longer any cooperation between the two sides, even on issues that appear should be non-controversial.
- Violence Against Women’s Act – Hmm, I don’t know, what if women deserved to be attacked? This law, which provides funding for the investigation and prosecution against violent acts against women as well as providing a civil course of action should prosecutors decide not to pursue a criminal case, was allowed to expire in 2011. Apparently at issue was whether or not protections should be extended to the LGBT community (or persumely these groups had beatings coming because of their ‘sinful’ ways). Finally the act was reauthorized just a week or so ago, though GOP house leader Boehner leader had to rely on the votes of Democrats and just enough GOP representatives to get it over the goal line.
- The delay of passage of aid for the areas stuck by superstorm Sandy – There was a time that when an area was hit by a natural disaster, the federal government would go ahead and get aid out to these areas as fast as possible. There was no controversy over this. We help you this time, you help us next time. Not anymore. With the attitude that everything is going to break the budget, all of the sudden disaster relief was considered “pork” spending. Help for Katrina victims was passed within 10 days. Help for Sandy victims took months (much to the dismay of politicians representing areas affected by the storm who properly felt that ‘hey, our taxpayers helped them out, why aren’t we getting that favor returned?’)
- The responders on 9/11 were heroes…….what, you want help for 9/11 related illnesses? No you moochers! – Anyone who have seen the scenes from ground zero on 9/11 and the days following it know that the responders to that tragedy had to breath in some nasty stuff. So it’s not really surprising that this has led some of these responders to contract illnesses related to that. Democrats proposed that we might should help pay for the treatment for such illnesses, given they were contracted in service to this country. Republicans somehow decided that this would actually be a fraudulent slush fund. And oh yeah, once again, it would break the budget. Finally the hurdles were cleared and the bill was passed in 2011. However, because of the hoops you have to jump through to receive funds, including deciding whether or not cancer would be covered at all and making sure terrorists weren’t on the victim list, nobody has actually received any money.
- United Nations: “Hey U.S., we think your disability act is kind of awesome and we want to copy that for the world”; U.S.: “Oh yeah, well screw you!” – The United Nations created a treaty based on the United States own Americans With Disabilities Act. They thought it would be nifty if the world would adopt that (though the treaty was non-binding), and wanted to U.S. to sign on as a party to the convention. Somehow enough GOP representatives not wanting to upset the black helicopter conspiracy theorists who think the U.N. is at the verge of worldwide domination decided that this treaty would actually dictate how parents could raise their children (among other things). Even rolling in Bob Dole off his death bed wasn’t enough to overcome this irrational fear, as passage failed to reach the super majority needed.
- Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads…..oh wait, we aren’t going anywhere and we still need roads? – Back in the day, transportation bills passed with no fanfare. That’s because it was generally recognized that supporting the country’s infrastructure was an important role of government, and that voters don’t like driving on roads with potholes. But in 2009, Congress couldn’t agree on what the transportation bill should look like, so instead they had to continually pass stop gap measures just to make sure all funding didn’t stop. Finally in 2012, Congress passed something, though it only last two years instead of the usual four, and it was flawed.
And heck, I didn’t even mention sequesters, debt ceilings, or government shutdowns (i.e. our future). It’s no wonder that the last Congress was less popular than the flu and this one is working on being less popular than cancer. (I would note that when something did happen on the issues above, it was invariably because it had full support from the Democrats, and just enough support from the GOP to get it done. To me, that gives some insight to who deserves more blame, at least in my opinion.)