Do Something Congress

By Beacon Staff

In politics the Senate acts more civil than the House. Both chambers are needed since compromise moves the nation forward. Lawmaking is an ugly and painful process to watch, but it works. Though distasteful to party bases, compromise does advance the people’s interest.

The lack of progress in 2011 Congress is stifling to the small business climate. The U.S. House remains divided after big GOP wins in the last election. President Barack Obama has little chance of passing policy in today’s polarized Congress, where compromise is a dirty word.

The president should bring the discussion to the small towns of America. He should talk directly with real people, in rural places like Whitefish. Congress makes laws and authorizes spending. That is their job. If they do it poorly, the president should veto it.

The debt ceiling is a debate about money that Congress already spent. These expenditures were not frivolous: multiple wars, bailouts, massive tax cuts, social security promises, public education and health care.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently warned his fellow Republicans that allowing a debt default to occur would “destroy” the GOP brand and help re-elect Obama, similar to the 1995 government shutdown which helped President Bill Clinton win a second term.

Former President Harry Truman nicknamed political gridlock as the “do-nothing, good-for-nothing” Congress. A “Give ‘em Hell, Harry” provocateur could easily tag the 112th Congress with a similar badge.

Congress must get its act together and pass laws that promote jobs. A do-nothing Congress is bad for Middle America and could cause a double dip recession. Congress needs to compromise on the job at hand: middle class prosperity.

Our economy is capable of generating jobs and prosperity. Congress cannot afford to ignore the unemployed. These are fellow Americans, many who served our country in war.

The stimulus cost $800 billion. One-third of the stimulus was tax breaks for workers and other money was used for projects like Flathead road construction, sewer upgrades in Columbia Falls, emergency services in Whitefish, unemployment benefits, and teacher retention at Flathead Valley Community College.

The 2009 Montana Legislature passed House Bill 645 to “implement receipt of and appropriate federal stimulus and recovery funds.” Current Republicans, Speaker of the House Mike Milburn and former Senate President Bob Story, voted for the Montana stimulus distribution along with local GOP members.

A $4 trillion debt reduction plan would send a strong signal to investors and local small businesses that America pays its obligations and is open for business. Lowering U.S. debt is critical to stimulating local economies.

House Republicans resurrected Newt Gingrich’s idea of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The bill passed the House, but failed to garner the two-thirds support needed for Constitutional amendments. GOP presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul both voted against the bill.

Though plenty of politicians act like it, neither political party is actually stupid enough to default on America’s “full faith and credit.” Hot politics serves the ideological party bases, which drives passion and increases turnout for elections. Most voters will simply remember whether the debate helped the economy or created jobs.

“Aw, hell, they’re not going to do it,” Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said when asked about Congress defaulting on bills. “Listen: remember ‘Blazing Saddles’? Remember the scene where the sheriff holds the pistol to his own head?” Ultimately, he said, “They’ve got to come together and put together a deal.”

Congress may appear to mimic a Mel Brooks comedy, but compromise is good for business. Montanans expect Congress to behave like leaders. Leadership will only fully materialize when independents and moderates remind Congress to “grow up and do something” to help Middle America in this sputtering economy.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.