Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

We have met the enemy, and it is the Congress

The President of the United States can’t fix what’s wrong with America.

You wouldn’t know that from listening to the presidential campaign rhetoric from the Republicans who want to replace the current POTUS or from the POTUS himself.

They all sound like the President is a dictator who can do wondrous things by mere decree.

He can’t. He needs the Congress. And the Congress is what’s wrong with America.

The country remains stuck in the economic doldrums as it tries to recover from a brutal recession yet the Congress last year passed only 90 laws, the fewest in 20 years.

Among the substantial, transformative legislation they passed were bills that: Named several post offices; Created a new postage stamp; Required the president to continue to support Democracy in Belarus; Authorized the presentation of American flags to the families of civilian U.S. employees killed in the line of duty; reformed the American Legion charter; created rules and regulations for the America’s Cup yacht race; and named a few more post offices.

If changing names on post offices could resurrect the housing market, repair the nation’s crumbling transportation infrastructure, bring manufacturing jobs back from overseas or lower the unemployment rate, why we’d be in the pink.

Some Constitutional scholars argue that government inaction is the way the government is supposed to work. The system of checks and balances prevents any majority from running roughshod over any minority. And when the country is evenly divided politically, as it is now, little can be accomplished because the rules empower dissenters.

But it’s hard to imagine that the Framers of the Constitution had this level of legislative paralysis in mind.

According to a December Gallup Poll, Americans’ distaste for Congress is at an all time high. Nearly 9 out of 10 Americans are unhappy with the Congress and want it to change.

But there’s an amount of cognitive dissonance in that poll. While Congress as a whole is despised, district-by-district polls of individual Congressional members show much higher approval ratings. So we hate the Congress, but love our Congress member. That makes no sense.

That dissonance showed up in the past three Congressional elections when the Congress as a whole had 80 percent or more disapproval ratings yet 85 to 95 percent of incumbents won re-election.

This is an election year. Every seat in the House of Representatives is up for election and one-third of the Senate. It’s up to us to elect candidates who will work together when necessary and not wing nuts who pine for the government of the 19th Century or who want to mandate we all eat Tofu and have solar panels on our roofs.

If we want the POTUS – whomever it ends up being – to lead the nation back to robust prosperity and low unemployment we must elect a Congress that will be a full partner in solving the nation’s problems not one that can only agree what name to give a post office.

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