Our Government In Action

Up until the last couple of weeks this post would have been titled, “Our Government Inaction,” because that’s what it’s seemed to be over the last two years or so. But over the last two weeks our legislative branch has seemingly gotten underway and have, you know, started legislating.

What I want to know is what took them so long? Especially the Democrats. Two years of total and complete authority and the only thing to get passed was a watered down version of the health care bill and financial reform that, based on what I’m seeing on Wall Street, hasn’t really reformed all that much. What’s the point of having a majority in the House and Senate and control of the White House if you don’t use it?

And then, finally, some movement. I guess the incumbents need their backs against the wall to get something done.

It started a couple of weeks ago when President Obama struck a deal with the Republicans and got both the Bush tax cuts and unemployment benefits extended. The first for two years and the second for eighteen months. I’m not a big fan of this deal. Of course I’m glad that unemployment benefits got extended for those who need them, but I’m really disappointed that Obama and the other Dems didn’t hold to their principals and let the tax cuts expire. (and just FYI, my wife and I would have been impacted by the cuts expiring and we were willing to pay the extra taxes.).

Of course, this only happened after the Republicans decided to hold the extension of unemployment benefits hostage until the tax cuts were allowed to continue. It’s like the Republicans are becoming spoiled children who hold their breath until their parents give them what they want. Apparently, the Democrats are the parents who just can’t say no; at least not for long.

In the last few days the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has passed and been signed into law. Again, I’m wondering what took so long. I think it should go without saying that if someone wants to die for this country they should be able to do it without hiding who they are. It’s amazing to me that if someone said, “blacks shouldn’t be allowed to serve in the military,” people would look at that person as if they were an abomination to all that’s right and good (And rightfully so, because that way of thinking needs to go the way of carrier pigeons and Oldsmobile.) but replace the word “black” with “gay” and it seems like that’s OK to say in public.

Now, today, just moments ago in fact, the bill that will provide health care to 9/11 first responders has passed a hurdle in the Senate. The bill that will go up in front of the Senate and Congress has been reduced by $2 billion dollars to $4.2 billion over ten years to take care of health benefits and compensation for first responders whose health was compromised by toxic dust that permeated the sites of the 9/11 attacks. It looks like the vote will happen by tomorrow before Congress ends its latest session.

It also looks like the START Treaty may get passed. It only took a briefing in a closed-door session to convince a few of the Senators to stop dragging their feet in supporting it. Again, I don’t understand the foot-dragging and breath-holding by the Republicans. This treaty is supported by the military, as evidenced by the letter Admiral Mullen sent to the Senate, every living Republican former Secretary of State supports it and their argument holding it up, that we won’t be able to defend ourselves with 1,550 nuclear missiles, is well, just crazy, since that is more than enough weaponry to destroy civilization as we know it.

Now, the only hope is that when Congress reconvenes in 2011 that the desire to compromise and keep getting things done continues.

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