The finger of blame points at We the People

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By Hal Rhodes

Since Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives a year ago come January, the American people have endured an unrelenting orgy of finger pointing.
Divided government fosters that sort of thing. When one party controls the White House and the other party controls Congress, or a part thereof, deadlock is rarely far behind. And since no one wants to take responsibility for grinding the affairs of state to a halt, everyone starts pointing fingers of blame at everyone else.
Witness last week when that so-called congressional “Super Committee” confirmed that the six Republicans and six Democrats on that panel had failed to find a way to reconcile their differences over how to reduce our horrendous national debt.
The elephants immediately pointed to the donkeys as the culprits and the donkeys pointed to the elephants as the miscreants in the breakdown.
At this point We the People eschewed any responsibility for the mess by self-righteously proclaiming “A plague on both their houses.”
“They’re all bums,” we tell the pollsters who take our political temperature more often than need be.
Well, perhaps they are, although I don’t believe it for a moment. In any case, we elected those “bums,” the elephants and the donkeys, alike.
Three years ago, as the nation plummeted perilously into a recession only slightly less severe than the Great Depression of the late ‘20s and ‘30s, we elected a Democratic president and Congress by comfortable margins and told them to turn their campaign promises into solutions for our economic woes.
Two years later, we elected a Tea Party Republican U.S. House majority pledged to undoing pretty much everything that had been accomplished in the previous two years, and with uncompromising resolve they have done their level best to keep that pledge.
One part of the problem is that many of those who voted for the donkeys in 2008 didn’t vote in the 2010 congressional elections.
The other part is that many of those who didn’t vote for the elephants in 2008 did vote in 2010, and, fired up by the Tea Baggers, they put elephants in charge of the House.
Thus we have empowered the U.S. House elephants to veto every measure that works its way through the torturous congressional legislative process.
Thus empowered, they virtually froze the economic recovery earlier this year by blocking a measure to raise the nation’s debt level.    
That crisis, in turn, was resolved only by legislation creating this absurd “Super Committee” and telling it to use all measures necessary to cut the debt by $1.2 trillion.
New Mexico Republican Congressman Steve Pearce reportedly thought from the start that it would fail. This reporter agrees with the congressman on that point.
Nonetheless, six elephants and six donkeys gathered around a big shiny walnut table on Capitol Hill and feigned “to put everything” on that table in the spirit of compromise, as they searched for ways to meet that $1.2 trillion debt reduction goal.
It was a charade. “Everything” was never on the table. The elephants were simply uninterested in balancing spending cuts with increased revenues sufficient to accomplish the debt reduction sought.
As New Mexico Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman noted after the “Super Committee” bombed out, committee Republicans “took a hard stance against revenue increases, even for the wealthiest Americans, and (they) even went so far as to seek additional tax cuts for that group—a move that would have our debt even further.”
Pollsters tell us that only 9 percent of the American people hold Congress in high regard.  
We should feel no better about ourselves, for this is a mess of our making.

Hal Rhodes
© 2011 New Mexico
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