Legislative branch defunct
The reality comedy that calls itself the Trump campaign may be the most entertaining topic right now, but the most important topic not under national discussion is that one co-equal branch of government, the U.S. Congress, is all but defunct.
Last year, if you wanted a seat at the Capital Grill, where the steaks remain the feature of the menu and can be examined upon entering the restaurant, reservations were unnecessary on Mondays or Fridays, but impossible on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Why? Because Congressional representatives had nothing to do, so they only met 130 days the entire year and, while in Washington, spent their time holding mostly mock hearings to make political points, like the handful of hearings and the plethora of committees on Benghazi that resulted in discovering four Americans died there.
Perhaps the most pointed example of such total foolishness were the House hearings on Benghazi under Rep. Trey Gowdy. Now, this House investigation, the eighth review of Benghazi, was going to get the “real” truth and finally blame Secretary Clinton for Benghazi. Yes, blaming the future presidential candidate was always the purpose, and everyone always knew that. Except, once Clinton appeared for the Longest Day, she addressed each and every question with fact and logic. At the end of the day, the Gowdy attack committee work was effectively over, but not before months of committee work and millions of taxpayer dollars were spent chasing nothing.
But, back to the Capital Grill. Because Congress has been busy ignoring 75 percent of the major issues that face America today (according to the Brookings Institute, 2014), including tax reform, budgeting, infrastructure, income inequality and immigration among other important issues, Congress had so little to do. So they met mostly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, pushing down filets at the Capital Grill before leaving town on Thursday, or Friday for the mallingers.
You see, our representatives are busy people, busy being home, and busy raising money to stay in Congress, where accomplishing anything is now a laughable proposition.
The one place they are never busy though is in the halls, offices, and chambers of Congress. In those locations, there should be rooms for rent daily, or weekly to justify heating the place.
Now Congress could reign in any president if they chose to actually do things like pass laws. It is the truth, Congress can actually pass laws. If you do not believe, look it up, it is a historical fact.
Just, for example, when President Obama acted with an executive order on immigration, after waiting six years for Congress to act on the topic to no avail, Congress could have overriden Obama’s executive order by passing a….yes, that…a law.
But of course Congress has forgotten that remedy, and instead, hoped someone would sue the administration so the third branch of government could do what Congress could not do, notably, be relevant.
Everyone can agree we need tax reform, not because the poor are getting too much out of the budget, but because the top 1 percent are being pretty successful at squirreling away most of the wealth of the nation in their successful attempt to re-create the 1920s and the Gatsby era of opulence and greed. While the Romneys pay 13 percent on their millions of income, your neighbor the plumber pays 25 percent in taxes. And, while Hedge fund managers pay extremely low taxes when they literally make billions on other peoples money, if you receive an inheritance of ten grand, you can count on a 40 percent tax rate.
But Republicans cannot discuss taxes because they have signed a pledge to Grover Norquist to remain unable to tax anyone at any time a penny more than today, even should the nation crumble.
So stay away from the Capital Grill on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but go for open seating any Friday when Congress does its real work, getting out of town.
Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.