Friday, March 29, 2013

Hard Working House Republicans

The Post is running a long article today on how efforts to cut wasteful government spending have gotten stalled, mostly because political leaders have other priorities. This is the best bit:
Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) was assigned to write legislation that would cut $380 million in loan guarantees to clean-energy companies. But nothing happened with that idea, because Kelly never wrote a bill. He got distracted.

“It was a priority, and it remains an issue of interest. But Mike’s efforts shifted when he chose to focus more on holding the administration accountable with regards to [Operation] Fast and Furious. And then when the Benghazi tragedy occurred, that took the cake,” said Kelly’s spokesman, Tom Qualtere. Now that Congress is in a new session, Qualtere said, Kelly might introduce the bill at last.

Or maybe not.

“Now there are even more priorities and actions that he’s personally leading — such as the march against the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty,’’ Qualtere said. “So it’s up in the air.”
Jonathan Bernstein comments:
Couldn’t write a bill because he was distracted by Fast and Furious and Benghazi? Why not just say that his computer was down or that a dog ate his homework? At least those cliched excuses don’t imply what is really going on here: Republican politicians who believed that the job of a member of Congress is to be outraged, and once they’ve done that, they can pretty much go home.
Not that there is anything new about Congressmen who don't want to do the hard work of actually running the government. I remember a story my father told me many years ago about trying to get some legislative help from a Democratic congressman from Norfolk, who said he was too busy working to keep the military bases in his district open to do much else. Tough job, keeping the Norfolk Navy Yard open, seeing as how it is the headquarters of the Atlantic fleet and the biggest naval base in the world.

But there is a real issue here, which comes down to this: what kind of person do we want representing us? Lately Republican voters have decided that they want to be represented by angry, anti-Washington crusaders, and they have sent dozens to the Hill. These men make their constituents feel like they are doing something to fight government bloat and culture change, but most of them are not very good at the work our system requires of legislators. They can cast all the symbolic budget votes they want, but unless those resolutions actually get written into spending bills, they are meaningless. Since 2010 almost all the language in the budget bills has actually been written on the Senate side, or in the White House, rendering all those Ryan budgets pointless. Voters who want to change the system need to think harder about what kind of representative might really be able to do that, and stop opting for the guy with the angriest bullhorn.

No comments: