There’s no such thing as a bad time for reflection. Taking a look back at the activities of the first week of this new year should enable us to see what went wrong, what we’re up against and, hopefully, what can be done differently in the future.
The 113th Congress — the most diverse ever — was sworn in this past Thursday. People of colour and women are represented, as are those from the LGBT community. While we still have a long way to go towards complete equality, any steps towards progress are positive. But, of course, even with the positive changes it’s a challenge to look forward when those who continue to look backwards still hold office. That said, elected officials are in public service to do exactly that: manage challenges on behalf of their constituents even when it appears that they are stuck in place managing some version of the same challenges over and over. The very definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly but expecting a different result…but, clearly, there must be some benefit to bringing up the same issues. At least so we hope.
Here are some issues – their pros and cons – and how we can change the agenda:
Pro: Women’s issues are taking their place on stage.
Con: The ‘War on Women‘ continued and the Violence Against Women Act became a casualty. The Act which, among other things, provides support for groups and organisations that serve domestic violence victims has helped to decrease the number of lives lost to domestic violence since its inception over two decades ago — but the bill was blocked by the GOP as the result of their opposition to giving Native American tribal councils the power to prosecute cases on their reservations.
Pro: Fillibuster reform is being discussed. According to LeftAction, “For too long, America has watched helplessly as the the Senate became the place where good bills go to die. The ridiculous, outdated, undemocratic filibuster meant that majority rule was turned on its head, and the stubbornness of 41 senators was enough to block the hard work and good will of 59 others. And with the Republican minority using the filibuster at an unprecedented pace, work and progress ground to a halt.”
Con: Harry Reid seems to be weakening on the issue in favour of a compromised bill that could be worse. The revised proposal could increase the Senate minority’s power to obstruct, proving that sometimes doing nothing at all can be better than taking the wrong approach.
Pro: Immigration issues are being discussed by representatives, So at some point we may have sensible legislation with a permanent fix instead of stop-gap measures on a state-by-state basis.
Con: Iowa Representative Steve King says that he believes the 14th amendment has been misinterpreted and, as a result of his concerns about illegal immigration, he has submitted a bill to end birthright citizenship By amending the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Pro: Conversations addressing the nation’s spending are ongoing.Without going into detail about the specifics of war-related debt and prolonged tax cuts for the wealthiest among us that have led to our current position, the fact remains that the nations debt levels are high.
Con: Mitch McConnell says that we should address spending while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi asserts that addressing spending is a completely distinct issue from raising the debt ceiling, which is about paying the bills we’ve already incurred. When Senate Minority Leader McConnell says, “The tax issue is behind us,” it is noted that he hasn’t given serious consideration to the problem of corporations that pay no taxes.
Pro: Full-scale Obamacare implementation begins.
Con: On the first day of the 113th Congress Republican Representative Michele Bachmann announced that she had filed the first bill of the legislative session. And what was that Bill? The 34th attempt to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
The maddening madness continues…as does the insaniTea…party.
If it isn’t clear by now, hopefully this post made the point that we simply want this country to move forward….
We can do better than this!