So you thought gridlock was finally a thing of the past with a GOP majority sending lots of bills to a Republican Oval Office? Nope. Gridlock never ended. It’s going to get worse. Progress on Capitol Hill is stalling. Congress is hopeless and lawmakers know it. They will either distance themselves from the investigation they started or take credit for going after the president. Forward progress? Forget about it.
Congress is hopeless and the GOP won’t seize anything
Speaker Paul Ryan assured us we will “Seize This Moment”1 when he talked about tax reform.
Rest assured we aren’t going to seize anything, especially not a big legislative package spearheaded by Trump. The Russia scandal is going to overwhelm everything.
There are lots of ways to wield the club of hopelessness over the people who look to Congress to fix what needs fixing, like health care and the tax code. One way is to threaten to impeach the president. That’s what lawmakers are doing now.
Another way is to threaten us with the budget.
Moral spending creates hopeless government
Making spending a moral imperative creates hopelessness. Despite what Congresswomen Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) claimed when they saw Trump’s spending plan, the federal budget is not about morality.2,3 Budgets are not meant to create hope. They are made to prevent creating the mountains of debt Washington has placed on our shoulders.
Budgets are also meant to create gridlock. Over the years our hopeless Congress decided that the purpose of the budget is to save member’s jobs. That’s part of the appeal of having Republicans in charge. They also want to save their skins, but don’t have a reputation for solicitude. That means we don’t create more dependence and hopelessness.
Democrats charge that Trump is offering a “Budget of Broken Promises.”4 They hope we won’t notice their role in stalling progress by demanding that government deliver free everything.
This year we journeyed from health care to a budget proposal to a tax plan and then we appointed a special prosecutor.
Now Congress is hopeless again. Everything will stop. Lawmakers are off the hook until a scandal that will never be resolved is behind them. That’s the way they like it.
Hopeless Congress has no hope for us at all
President Obama was an ideologue. He even believed there was hope in the electoral process that Democrats allege helped the Russians elect Trump:
But, contrary to what we hear sometimes from both the left as well as the right, the system isn’t as rigged as you think, and it certainly is not as hopeless as you think. Politicians care about being elected, and they especially care about being reelected. And if you vote and you elect a majority that represents your views, you will get what you want.5
That process is over for now. We’re stuck with who we voted for. Congress is giving the appearance of acrimony to satisfy the public while working together behind the scenes. If you want an example of how this works and why Congress is hopeless, consider Paul Ryan teaming up with Nancy Pelosi on a “Task Force for Intergovernmental Affairs,”
a bipartisan group of lawmakers focused on balancing the interests between federal, state, tribal, and local governments.6
You always knew this was about the interests of government, didn’t you?
How about a task force on not wasting the taxpayers’ time and money with investigations that divide the country and don’t go anywhere? Even better, let’s form a task force on Hillary Clinton until the Trump investigation goes away.
Trump investigation: this kind of bipartisanship is easy to predict
Instead of joining Democrats investigating our president with impeachment in mind, Republicans should return the favor and go after the Clintons. Return to that meeting on the plane between Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch. Resurrect Benghazi. Investigate influence and the Clinton Foundation. Ask more questions about the law and Hillary’s server. Pull out every dirty trick in the book.
Loudly defend our president.
That’s not happening.
Instead, Republicans are gradually joining their partners across the aisle to create the do nothing, “Congress is hopeless” persona both sides depend on.
After Robert Mueller was tapped to go after the White House, Speaker Ryan made this remark:
… I welcome his role at the Department of Justice. The important ongoing bipartisan investigation in the House will also continue.7
Republican lawmakers’ phony, make-nice behavior towards Trump after the election won’t erase what happened last year. They hide behind the cloak of bipartisanship, as if this makes their behavior more palatable. It doesn’t.
Republicans need to give us a reason not to vote for Democrats, especially after they tried to undermine our choice even before last year’s GOP convention. They aren’t doing that. If Democrats are going to rule Washington, call the plays, and bully our president out of the White House we might as well vote for them because Republicans are powerless to resist.
Congress is hopeless, but Republicans continue to prove they are all but worthless.
UPDATE July 22, 2017: I didn’t think it was possible, but the lie of conservative health care reform just raised the bar for Republican worthlessness. The only thing the GOP can do that will top passing a bad replacement for bad legislation is to repeal health care as America knows it, for better or for worse, without anything to put in its place.
That’s what McConnell and company are working on now.
1. ‘Seize This Moment’: Speaker Ryan’s Remarks on Tax Reform at Leadership Press Conference.” Speaker Paul Ryan. May 17, 2017. http://www.speaker.gov/general/seize-moment-speaker-ryan-s-remarks-tax-reform-leadership-press-conference, retrieved May 19, 2017.
2. “Congresswoman Barbara Lee: This Budget Is a Recipe for Greater Instability, Hunger and Hopelessness.” Barbara Lee. March 16, 2017. https://lee.house.gov/news/press-releases/congresswoman-barbara-lee-this-budget-is-a-recipe-for-greater-instability-hunger-and-hopelessness, retrieved May 15, 2017.
3. “Shea-Porter says Trump budget doesn’t reflect morals, values.” Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. March 17, 2017. https://shea-porter.house.gov/media/in-the-news/shea-porter-says-trump-budget-doesn-t-reflect-morals-values, retrieved May 15, 2017.
4. “Trump #100Days: A Budget of Broken Promises.” Dems.gov. Home page. http://www.dems.gov/, retrieved May 19, 2017.
5. “Remarks by the President at Commencement Address at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.” The White House. President Barack Obama. May 15, 2016. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/05/15/remarks-president-commencement-address-rutgers-state-university-new, retrieved May 15, 2017.
6. “Speaker and Democratic Leader Announce Task Force on Intergovernmental Affairs.” Speaker Paul Ryan. May 18, 2017. http://www.speaker.gov/press-release/speaker-and-democratic-leader-announce-task-force-intergovernmental-affairs, retrieved May 19, 2017.
7. “Statement on the Appointment of Special Counsel.” Speaker Paul Ryan May 17, 2017. http://www.speaker.gov/press-release/statement-appointment-robert-mueller, retrieved May 19, 2017.
Photo: “Guide to the Chamber.” Office of the Clerk. U.S. House of Representatives. http://clerk.house.gov/about/chamber_guide.aspx, retrieved May 19, 2017.