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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Politicians Are Dealing

 "The White House encourages congressional leaders to reach a major deficit-reduction deal by offering them a little more time, as President Obama says he's open to a short-term deal if Congress can reach a 'significant' debt plan before deadline."

(Headline:"Obama Open To Short-Term Debt Deal," Fox News, July 21 2011)

As Treasury Department officials say that Congress must boost the $14.29 trillion debt ceiling before August 2, or the government will run out of cash to pay its bills, politicians are "making deals." And, many lawmakers say they will not vote to increase the debt cap without a significant deficit-reduction plan.

Does anyone else abhor the idea of "dealing" toward solutions? I know "a deal" in political terms can mean a workable compromise, but shouldn't matters of national importance demand upfront bipartisan teamwork, not horse trading tactics, to accomplish ends that benefit constituents, Democrat and Republican alike?

The selfish wranglings of politicians often defy reason. When citizens want answers to their problems in a timely fashion, politicians often ignore requests for concord and resort to throwing hissy fits to secure party interests. Why? That answer is simple: They exist to be re-elected.

I understand what Dick Burckhart is saying. (Letter to the Editor,, October 5 2010). He writes, "I believe we should all be ashamed to admit we are registered to either political party. It’s no longer the United States of America; now it’s the Divided States of the Politicians."
Politicians always claim that they care more about their principles than getting re-elected. If they didn't air this view, the public would despise them, but that same public knows the score. Washington is an "us vs them" game. 

Lawmakers see themselves as footsoldiers in the battle for majority control. In this contest, there’s very little incentive for anyone to compromise, so little compromise happens. Instead, the politicians  leverage time sensitive situations to exploit the opposing party's flaws with the media. 

Dan O'Brien says, "It’s incredibly tiresome and unnerving to witness every important political decision turn into a promotional or smear campaign fueling the next election.  Both political parties continue to try to force the other’s hand by whining to the public about how the other side is the cause of the problem.  Why can’t politicians just do their damn job?" (Dan O'Brien, "US Debt Negotiations Reveal True Politician's Colors," The American Hegemon, July 18 2011)

O'Brien cites some embarrassing examples of politicians' "inexcusable behaviors" during the current U.S. debt fiasco:

- Eric Cantor (Republican Congressman from Virginia) notes Obama “angrily” stormed out of one discussion. 

- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid calls Cantor’s behavior “childish” and says that Cantor should not have a part in any deficit reduction conversations. 

- Obama storms out of a meeting saying, “Eric, don’t call my bluff. I’m going to take this to the American People!”

Let's Make "a Deal"? 

To me, "deals" smack of underhanded, negative compromise. I believe politicians should be openly working together, fine-tuning details, and crafting important work for the American people. But, then again, what do I know about people and what they want from politicians? Consider the following findings:

"Nearly half of America -- including nearly two-thirds of Republicans and 53 percent of independents -- admires political leaders who refuse to compromise," said the Society for Human Resource Management/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, conducted with the Pew Research Center.

According to the poll, 49 percent of all respondents said they admire political leaders who rarely compromise. The poll found that 42 percent took the opposite view, admiring politicians who are willing to compromise with people who hold different views and philosophies.

"This is further evidence that the current political atmosphere is not merely contentious, but hostile to any hope of negotiated settlements to the many political and policy differences that define the current landscape,'' the poll concluded. (Charles Pope, "Poll Says Voters Aren't Fond of Politicians Who Make Deals and Compromise," The Oregonian, September 21 2010)

Oh, my head hurts. Not wonder I consider myself politically disadvantaged.

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