The new Congress and why it won’t help

I don’t want to be the wet blanket, here. (Actually, this is the time of year I usually become a wet blanket, all the way until spring.) Maybe Republicans should have their day to celebrate, and Dems some time to pick up the pieces and decide who to blame. (Oh, come on – you know it’s G.W. Bush’s fault.)

But we live in a critical time. We need to face reality, and understand exactly what’s likely to happen for the next two years:

Nothing.

Yup. Both sides are making noises about working together to get things done, but it’s not going to happen. The short version of what is going to happen: The Republicans will block everything President Obama wants to do, and Obama will veto anything the Republicans manage to get to his desk (which won’t be much, as obstructionism will continue to rule in Washington.) If I’m using a lot of parenthesis, it’s because “buts” rule in Washington.

Well, that’s the short version, but I’ve got a column to write, so let’s get to it. I’m going to make some predictions, because I’m remarkably good at being right about bad stuff. I predicted our incredibly snowy winter, didn’t I? Okay, it hasn’t happened yet, but trust me.

My first prediction, a remarkably easy one, is that the lame duck Congress will use the next couple of months to ram through as much of the Democratic agenda as possible, because they know how much harder it will be after the new Congress is sworn in. You could make the argument that the people don’t want this to happen – that’s what the election was all about, after all – but “our” elected officials worry about what the people want only when it relates to what will keep them in power.

Starting in January, the new House will take action to overturn whatever gets passed, along with whatever has been passed since Obama took office. Obama will ink up his veto stamp and get to work.

Meanwhile Obama, still surrounded by yes men assuring him he’s the Chosen One, will chalk the whole thing up to anger over an economy that he “inherited” (and he did – he inherited much of it from Clinton, Carter, and the 2006 Congressional elections). Assuming he’s still on the right track – or more accurately, the left one – he will continue trying to change the country, not understanding that the people want only one part of the country to change: the part with the initials D.C.

Yes, the people on both sides of the aisle should work together to solve the myriad of problems we face today, but they’re not going to. The reason is simple, and goes beyond the question of how many people in Washington are just there out of greed. Once you remove those people from the equation, and fill a short school bus with the elected officials who actually care about their country, you’re left with a problem that seems insurmountable:

Both sides think they’re right.

Pretty simple, isn’t it? The left honestly believes they can spend their way out of this recession, that expanded socialist (ahem – I mean, social) programs will make everything all better, and that the rich should be forced to share their wealth with the poor. The right honestly believes big government is the enemy of freedom, that Americans should have the right and ability to succeed or fail without the government running every moment of their lives, and that Washington should respect the wishes of the majority as well as the rights of individuals.

Over the years those two sides have become more extreme in their opinions, to the extent that, as Obama put it, the other side is not composed of fellow Americans but of “enemies” who need to be punished.

The irony is that many of our differences are over social issues, while the real danger to America comes from a different direction entirely: Money.

We don’t have any.

In fact, we haven’t had any for a long time. The longer we go without dealing with that, the bigger the disaster when the house of cards finally falls. The only alternative, the only way to save this country from a default that will make the Great Depression look like a little lost pocket change, is to cut spending now, to stop bleeding red while there’s still time. If they truly care about America, the President and Congress will slash everything with a cleaver, deep as they can without killing people off. Not just until the budget is balanced, but until this unimaginable debt no longer hangs like a Sword of Damocles over our children and our grandchildren.

But they’re not going to do it.

Washington is still overrun with the greedy, the pandering, and the clueless. As citizens our only hope is to continue to throw the bums out, in wave after wave, until finally enough get the point and start to make real changes – but even this time around we didn’t get rid of all of the party hacks, did we?

They’ll jockey for political position, and they’ll use nonexistent money to buy votes with their pork barrel projects. They’ll kill jobs with anti-business legislation and higher taxes, and they’ll fiddle while new Rome burns. When the house of cards falls, and the checks stop being cut in all those federal office buildings – that’s when the lesson will come too late.

That’s my prediction. I hope I’m wrong.

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