Congress is currently structured as follows:
- House – 247 Republicans; 188 Democrats; 0 Independents
- Senate – 54 Republicans; 44 Democrats; 2 Independents
- Total – 301 Republicans; 232 Democrats; 2 Independents
While that ratio will change next January based on the upcoming November elections, for the moment it is what it is. And what is it? A train wreck. This 112th Congress is among the very worst we have ever had, if not actually the worst. As a lawmaking body, they have done almost nothing. They have passed fewer laws than any Congress since at least 1947 (probably longer). They are unpopular amongst people of both parties, with an approval rating of only 10% in February. They nearly toppled the economy by refusing to increase the debt limit and insisting on tax cuts that put far more cash in the bank accounts of the wealthy than the struggling middle class. Their refusal to raise the debt ceiling led to our S&P downgrade. They voted exactly 33 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare. The vote was superfluous, but instead of spending their time coming up with an alternative plan to ACA, they just kept voting to repeal it. (I have read that a sure sign of mental illness is doing the same thing over and over, hoping for a different result.) They withheld an important Federal Reserve Board nomination. They withheld even consideration of a critical Supreme Court nomination. It has been so very bad that there is even a book written almost entirely about the 112th Congress, titled “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism” , by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein.
Among the few laws they did bother to pass:
- 112-22 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 4865 Tallmadge Road in Rootstown, Ohio, as the “Marine Sgt. Jeremy E. Murray Post Office”
- 112-23 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 95 Dogwood Street in Cary, Mississippi, as the “Spencer Byrd Powers, Jr. Post Office”.
- 112-20 – Providing for the reappointment of Robert P. Kogod as a citizen regent of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution.
- 112-13 – To amend the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission Act to extend the termination date for the Commission, and for other purposes.
See list of all bills passed. Pretty important laws, wouldn’t you agree?
This, folks, is your Congress, your legislative body, the men and women you chose to be an integral part of our government, this is your Congress, this is your tax dollars hard at work! And I’m sorry, folks, but at least some 56% of them are doing exactly what YOU told them to do: NOTHING! The republican voters dislike President Obama so much that they gave their Senators and Representatives a mandate to block anything that the Democrats even remotely wanted to see pass. They dislike President Obama so damn much that they are willing to see the Supreme Court deadlocked on crucial issues rather than to get up off their collective ass and hold a confirmation hearing. And the Republicans are still cheering them on.
Not mad enough yet? Let me provide you with a few more facts.
- The current salary (2016) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year.
- Senate and House majority and minority leader’s salary is $193,400 per year.
- Speaker of the House salary is $223,500 per year.
- Along with their salaries, benefits and allowed outside income, the members of the U.S. Congress are provided with various allowances intended to defray expenses related to carrying out their congressional duties. (They receive this, even though they are not actually carrying out their duties!)
I will save you the bother of doing the math: This amounts to $93,217,000 in salaries alone that your Congress is being paid this year alone to do nothing! I don’t know what you make in a year, but in my best years, I made about .05% of this. And I produced visible results in my job!
Which brings us to this week. Congress is playing games with the safety of our nation and acting as if they believe the American public is a group of stupid, stupid people who will fall for almost anything they do … or should I say don’t do!
On Monday, there were four gun measures up for vote by the Senate. They were not drastic measures, but merely an attempt to block people on terrorist watch lists from being able to buy a gun, and close loopholes in existing laws regarding background checks. They would not have expanded background checks. They would not have even banned assault-type weapons. They were very mild measures. Also attached to the measures was another proposal to take passports away from suspected terrorists.
- Senator Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois, voted for both bills.
- Senator Kelly Ayotte, Republican of New Hampshire, voted for the terror watch list bill but against the background checks bill.
- Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Democrat of North Dakota, voted against the terror watch list bill and the background checks bill.
- Senator John Tester of Montana, and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, both Democrats, both voted against the background checks bill.
Other than the above exceptions, every Republican Senator voted ‘against’ all four measures, and every Democratic Senator voted ‘For’ all four measures. What a shameless display of pointless and selfish partisanship, what an unwillingness to work as a team to do what is best for the nation. And you want to know the really sad part? Citizens from both parties were infuriated at this negligence, even though half of them sent these shameless idiots to Congress with a mandate to do exactly what they did … nothing! I have a right to be angry, but anybody who voted a Republican Senator or Representative into this 112th Congress gave up their right to be angry. Go dance in the damn streets if you want to, but I think you will not be doing much happy-dancing after November 8th!
But wait …. I am not yet finished. It gets even worse. The people were angry after Monday’s failed vote, since 90% of voters in both parties support some common-sense gun regulation, and they were calling for blood on social media, fueled by the mainstream media. I saw posts, true or not, showing Senators playing solitaire on their computers, playing on Facebook, and doing almost anything but what they were being paid to do. There were calls for blood flowing everywhere. Democratic Senators must have thought they better do something and quick, lest they lose the advantage they currently anticipate from the down-vote in November, so they put on a little dog-and-pony show for our benefit! They staged a ‘sit-in’. According to NBC News, “Georgia congressman John Lewis deployed a strategy from his days as a civil rights activist and coupled it with social media to stage a dramatic sit-in Wednesday on the House floor with his fellow Democrats to force a vote on gun control — and disrupt political business as normal well into the night.” I have immense respect for the role John Lewis played in the Civil Rights movement, but … sorry, guys … far too little, far too late, and far too ineffectual to count as doing anything other than sitting. It was a publicity stunt designed to try to make the citizens (read: voters) think that they were really working hard to “get ‘er done”. Some, apparently fell for it, however, as one of my friends who I once thought was relatively intelligent sent me a message saying that I had to watch it, that it was so exciting, and that this was ‘history in the making’. My reply to her? “Ho hum.”
The House has also staged a ‘sit in’ which is certain to be equally ineffective, though some say it is having the effect of creating new energy within the Democratic Party. That’s nice. However, the whole ‘sit-in’ thing is a huge media circus and the one result that it is certain to garner is to drive the two parties even farther apart than before. It will not change the mind of a single Republican Congressperson on the issue of gun control. I repeat … It will not change the mind of a single Republican Congressperson on the issue of gun control. It is done merely in an attempt to convince the public that Democratic Representatives and Senators are ‘serious’ about gun control. Toot … toot … toot. I am not impressed.
Another reason that the Republicans will not change their small minds about gun control is that they are receiving a lot of money from none other than the National Rifle Association (NRA). Check out this link to see which Congressmen have received money from the NRA and in what amounts. Fully 44 Senators and 249 Representatives have received blood money from the NRA. My income for a whole year is less than what some of these jerks have accepted from the NRA!
The men and women of the 112th Congress do not represent the public interest. They do not represent me or you, they have no concern for your safety, your ability to earn a decent living, nor your health. They do not care if tomorrow finds you dead or alive. They care only about their comfort and safety and about winning the next election. If you have not traded your brain for a box of Cracker Jacks, vote them out of office in November. Otherwise, enjoy your Cracker Jacks while you watch the election returns and cry on November 8th. Think about it … if you can.