Back when I had a business, I had a number of plans for it. I could tell you what services we offered, what directions I wanted to take it, and project how much it would cost along with how much money they would make. But I had to still make sure that the rent, electric, heating, and phone bills were paid. It didn’t matter that I might have other ideas that could have used the money, or that I might be looking at cutting various costs or services. The bills still had to paid. Otherwise, all the other plans didn’t happen. Earlier this month I said that purists are lousy at governing. One has only to look at their reactions to the fiscal cliff, and their recent debacle regarding House Speaker Boehner’s “Plan B.”
They have “purity” and “principled stands,” all of which means … nothing is getting done. What seems to escape them is that there are certain things that fall into the “must be done” category, when you’re part of a government. Actually, it’s part of anyone’s normal life, and most people can grasp that right away.
The current negotiations on the “fiscal cliff” are just one of many instances where Republicans in Congress have failed miserably to take the responsibility of governing. This wasn’t something that came up “out of the blue.” It was known over a year ago, in fact, the current Republicans were the ones who negotiated it. You’d have thought that in the interim they’d have plans made and their negotiation strategy mapped out. Instead, they ignored it until the deadline was upon them. Also looming is the debt ceiling, which if they don’t raise it, will lead to what one commentator has called “the mother of all government shutdowns.” No, it won’t be “a good thing,” and the people who will get hit the hardest by that are … conservative areas.
Another egregious failure is the Farm Bill. This is a large, complex piece of legislation which sets agriculture policies and funding for the next 5 years. The current one expires January 1’st. It’s one of those “must get done” pieces of legislation, which, if it isn’t, has a number of serious impacts on the farmers and consumers. Things like $7 a gallon milk:
During a Dec. 20 conference call, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters, “The first thing that will happen is the United States government will get in the business of providing additional support and will likely end up purchasing a great deal of product.”
The government would use taxpayer money to buy the three milk products mandated by the decades-old law — cheddar cheese, butter and nonfat dry milk. These purchases would lower supplies of these products and push up their prices, along with the price of milk.
Yes, that’s right, it’ll increase government spending if it’s not passed. What’s the hold-up? The House of Representatives. They haven’t voted on their version of the bill yet. The Senate version passed in June. That means until the House passes their bill, and then the Senate and House come up with a conference version and pass that, there is no farm bill. An important piece of legislation, which falls into the “must get done” category is in limbo because the Republican-controlled House of Representatives can’t be bothered to get it finished and voted on.
In my current job, there’s the “big picture” that I get to work on during part of the year. It’s mostly interesting, and rather fun. Then comes field season, when I have to put the big picture aside and focus on the minutiae. One part of the job is that I have to file a number of forms and reports. It doesn’t matter if I want to do them (I’d rather not), that I’d rather be out in the woods “doing something”, or that in the “big picture” they’re not always that useful. It’s a requirement, and they have to be on time. Otherwise, a number of unpleasant things happen. I don’t get supplies, equipment doesn’t get repaired, my staff doesn’t get paid, several regulatory agencies and my boss will be making my life miserable, and I’d be looking for another job in short order. So I set aside my preference to do anything else but that, my opinion on the usefulness or need for them, and I get them done.
The current members of the Republican Party in Congress have been indulging themselves in what they’d “like to do.” They’ve been running around the country telling everyone about it, all their “big picture” items, proclaiming their purity of purpose, and not doing their job. Their job is to keep the country running and pay the bills. That means they have to pass all those dull, boring, minutiae filled pieces of legislation that more than likely have something they’re not happy with. It means that they have to set aside their preferences to stand at podiums or appear on media outlets talking about what they believe, and get their job done and on time. It’s called “governing.”
They’re busily coming up with excuses and trying to duck responsibility for not doing it. It’s all well and good to have these big plans, ideals, and talk about the “big picture” you envision, as long as you get the job done. That means you sometimes have to set aside the big picture and get the things done to keep the government running. Their bosses – the people who elected them – are noticing that they’re not doing it and starting to make their lives miserable. The voters sent them a very clear wake-up call this past election, but it’s apparent that despite that, they still haven’t gotten the message.
Unfortunately, for the next two years, they’re still going to be around. It’s doubtful that they’ll be able to get their act together and do what they should have been doing all along. That’s why the 2014 election will be important. The American people expect that their elected representatives will at the very least get the basics of government done. The Republicans have been showing that they’re not able to do that, and unless they can show that they’re fit to govern, they should be replaced with someone who can do the job we’re paying them for.