Passed a $23 Billion dollar water projects bill. Now, this is one of those things that sounds impressive on the surface: it includes work to restore the hurricane-ravaged Louisiana coast and Florida’s Everglades. “This makes a substantial commitment to protecting our nation’s wetlands, navigation routes and recreation opportunities. It is crucial to our country’s economy,” said Boxer at a news conference after the vote."
But it’s one of those things where, once you dig deeper, you realize that it’s a lot of talk, but doesn’t really accomplish anything. First of all, one of my pet peaves, the original bills as passed by the House and the Senate, were only about $14 Billion. But of course, then everyone tacked on their local cash grabs, lots of patting each other on the back, and an additional $9 Billion gets added.
But what you have to dig deep to discover is that the bill doesn’t actually accomplish much in the way of getting things done. To quote from the AP article:
“But critics called the bill - the first water system restoration and flood control authorization passed by Congress since 2000 - an example of Congress’ push to approve lawmakers’ pet projects without concern over costs or setting priorities. They said the Army Corps already has a backlog of $58 billion worth of projects and an annual budget of only about $2 billion to address them. While the bill authorizes projects, it does not fund them.
“How many failed projects and wasted dollars does it take before we finally say we’ve had enough?” asked Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who called the legislation a “flawed, loaded bill” that doesn’t attempt to set priorities on water projects.”
And Congress wonders why their approval is so low.
The Democratic leadership in congress is getting exasperating. They don’t seem to realize that with their extremely narrow margins and no executive branch they should be forcing Bush into vetoes to set up for 2008 for an actually working margin of control, not fucking around on stuff “we can actually pass.”
Jason, I agree - it almost seems as if the Democratic leaders in Congress have said, OK, we won! We’re the majority! Now let’s make lots of speeches and sit around and wait until we see who wins the presidency in 2008. For all the talk of change during the elections, they’ve done absolutely nothing and taken no risks or initiatives. Bush has no political capital at all - hell, the Democrats were more effective when they were the minority, using their filibusters to get their way. Based on Hillary’s responses on the Sunday news shows, where she said that she couldn’t really commit to leaving Iraq until we see how things go over there, making comments that a writer in the NYT said sounded like they could have come from a hawkish Republican, we could end up with a Democrat in the White House and a Democratic Congress and not a lot of policy changes.
Well, when you read the papers by the founders, I think that was closer to what they planned. Of course there was some “class” bias in there - the congress folks had to be able to read and write and have education, which wasn’t as widespread as today. But they NEVER intended congress to be a lifetime career. You went, you served and did your best for the country and the people, then you went back to your farm or store.
And therein lies, I think, the basis of much of what is wrong with Washington and Congress - this is more about a career, a career of power and fame, than serving the country.
I’m mostly happy with both my rep and my senators - they usually vote the way I would want them to on most things, so I don’t know what else I can ask for.
For the sort of nonsense that the first post talks about, I think it’s important that people check how their actual reps/senators voted, and who sponsored the stuff, etc. It’s really easy to say “Congress sucks” but it’s not very useful in identifying and fixing problems.
QFT - I read a biography of Lincoln a few months back, and that was one of the things that struck me: although it was never codified into law, there was a sort of “de facto” term limit where people would go serve as a Senator or what have you, then return back to private life. Even career politicians would often just hold different posts at different times rather than staying in the same post for decades - there were exceptions, of course, but there was this sense of “giving other people their fair turn”.
I’m just shooting off what I remember being used in Athens. And in Florence. Oh, and I think Rome used it for a while too. And a few other nice places too. It just seems like a better way to get a real random sampling of the populace, as opposed to the current method, which seems to concentrate power in the hands of those with enough free time (read: money) to seek it out.
Yep. The whole concept of a government of the people, for the people assumed a representative government in which people in government were essentially “peers” and served for the sake of service (in fact, it was somewhat of a sacrifice for many, as they took time away from their normal lives and businesses.)
Unless the country is made up primarily of rich lawyers, congress (and government) today is far from the original concept. Today you have to be rich and/or have rich backers to win at the Washingon level (and more and more, at the state level) and almost everyone there is a career politician.