Wednesday, February 04, 2015

No attempt to achieve anything in Washington

The stalemate continues unabated in D.C.  Republicans and Democrats both are focusing on the unobtainable and refusing to look at anything that could actually be accomplished. What's wrong with small steps in the right direction, instead of their all or nothing approaches?

The House of Representatives, dominated by Republicans, once again voted to abolish the Obama health care bill in its entirety.  The health care bill may not be perfect, is not perfect especially given its daunting complexity, but there are some parts of it that the majority of Americans do find have benefit, as examples the ability to cover family members up to the age of 26, requiring coverage of mental health and substance abuse issues as diseases that should have the same coverage as all other afflictions, and taking account of pre-existing conditions that should in some way be insurable. The Republicans absolutely refuse to come up with a bill that looks at only certain aspects of the bill that may be flawed and go with proposals the are focused, and the Democrats refuse to work on or discuss any kind of creative compromise that could get more states to allow the expansion of Medicaid.

President Obama's State of the Union address was delivered in good style and at first it rang of an attempt to create some consensus or shared goals, but it then morphed into his "middle class economics" explanations that were clearly partisan positions aimed at 2016.  Stressing tax reforms, there were none that actually were constructively creative, just ones that would transfer wealth, most of which would come from the upper middle class and the lower end of the wealthy class.  For people who live in vibrant but high cost, high tax areas that need to make so-called upper middle class money or more for an adequate lifestyle, this is just a kick in the teeth by Obama for political purposes.  His estate tax proposals were poison for small business owners or farmers who want to pass on a tangible legacy to their next generation.  As an alternative, why didn't he focus on raising the low taxation rates for hedge funds with their many high, high net worth individuals.  It's simple, or so it seems.  The Democrats want their donations, just as they pamper the vultures on the trial bar that are the largest contributors to the Democratic party, the party that obviously blocks tort reform legislation whenever and wherever possible.

Now Obama is turning these comments on taxation into proposed bills that have no chance of being passed.  The purpose is purely political and cynical, aimed at achieving nothing.  How is this different from the Republican actions of recent years?

Immigration policy is something that could be taken in smaller steps rather than grand steps.  There may be consensus brewing on some issues, but Obama's executive actions on issues that were long overdue to be addressed have given most Republicans the idea that they should thwart any helpful and constructive action.  Everyone conspires, leading to no action.  Anyone who can fog a mirror knows that, despite all of the talk, there is zero chance for an agreement on any type of much needed comprehensive tax reform.  And while almost all politicians profess to support desperately needed infrastructure spending, they can find no way to agree on how to fund it.  Do they even talk about these issues seriously or, more importantly, to each other across the aisle except with near meaningless sound bites meant for the media.

The political parties are individually moving almost uniformly in lockstep.  Some congressmen break out for reasons related to popularity needs in their own states and districts, and maybe a few out of strongly held principles, but if they were actually important to a vote of their party it is believed here that they would just stay in line.

The frustration outside of the Beltway remains palpable, something like disgust.  There is not an end in sight to this.  Everything is focused on the 2016 Presidential election, as a Republican win there by one of their more tea party leaning candidates, while retaining control of Congress, could be earthshaking, and that is as in an earthquake with associated destruction.

Why not focus on the present for once?  That's all that really exists.  It has been said that the long term is simply a series of short terms.  What is going on now in the short term is ridiculous.  Thanks Mitch McConnell for setting this state of affairs in motion over 6 years ago.  Your actions are pathetic.  While passing out tongue in cheek plaudits, how can one forget Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi for their arrogantly divisive leadership in the two years that there was a newly elected Democratic President, with the wind at his back, and both Chambers of Congress under the Democrat's leadership, their leadership.  The damage was done and it definitely lingers.

I once considered myself to be a Democrat, and choose to remain registered that way.  Now, being democratic in the choices that are made and the policies that are preferred is more accurate, and has nothing to do with being a member of a political party.  That thought is such a luxury in this country. If there are 20 more years of this type of dysfunction, this time, these last six years of discord on any constructive policy, will be seen as the undeniable beginning of the decline of the American era.

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