Last Thursday, Republican House Majority Leader Rep. John Boehner sent his party home and effectively adjourned the U.S. House of Representatives for the holidays. In his wake, he left the GOP--and much of the nation--disheveled and rudderless regarding the nation's so-called fiscal cliff, the automatic tax increases and spending cuts that loom (at this writing) ten days away on Jan. 1, 2013.
Everyone but Congress, it seems, has worries on their minds. Will the U.S. avert another recession? Will the working poor and middle-class see their already stagnant incomes take another hit through tax hikes? Can teachers and contractors expect pink slips in January? Will America's international credit rating be lowered again?
Leaving the American people in the lurch this way is indicative of the level of concern our politicians have for us, their constituents--not much. Since America first elected Barack Obama in 2008, the Congress has seen an unprecedented amount of obstructionism and single-minded opposition by the GOP and the Tea Party. We've seen the GOP lose all sense of proportion and compassion as it scurries ever farther to the right. We've seen an entire party pledge allegiance--not to a flag but to one unelected political operative, Grover Norquist, promising never again to raise taxes.
None of this is earth-shattering news to most of our readers, but it bears repeating: The side of the aisle most entrenched in its ideology has become most adept at stopping progress of any kind.
And now, in an amazing act of insensitivity to the American public, most of our well-paid and pampered Congress (with its guarantee of a generous retirement and excellent health benefits) has left Washington, D.C., to engage in a little holiday frivolity with their families.
We don't begrudge anyone taking a break from work when they can. What we find unconscionable is that this tone-deaf Congress--particularly conservatives--believes it has done much of anything to deserve time off.
Perhaps the GOP believes its own rhetoric that America's fiscal issues only have one side issue: spending. The GOP "starve the beast" mentality (i.e., lower taxes and you must lower spending) is the same thinking that brought us "trickle-down economics" and the notion that government is the problem--most often heard from the mouths of politicians, aka government employees.
Unfortunately, nothing is as simple as conservatives would like us to believe. We can't spend billions on wars and national defense without sufficient revenues. We can't continue to subsidize corporations with inadequate income. Education won't magically improve and poverty won't go away on its own. Running America takes money.
We hope this holiday season sees a renewal of compassion for the plight of the majority of America's people. We invite Mississippi's congressional delegates--men from the poorest state in the union--to ponder the meaning of the season, and get back to work.