hearts and minds

August 6, 2006

Nonsense’n’nobrainer: Questions of Our Congressman

Congressman Sensenbrenner’s latest Annual Questionnaire has come again, prepared and mailed at taxpayer expense. It began with the assertion that “The 109th Congress is involved with many issues vital to you, your family and the nation.”

Five of James’ 14 questions highlighted issues that are within the proper purview of STATE government. Question 1 was about the issuance of driver’s licenses. In Question 2, Jim asks whether Wisconsin should continue charging the Internet Access tax. Question 5 seeks feedback to his hot button implication that the laws of one state shouldn’t apply to people who may have come from another state with different laws. That would open a federal can of litigating worms. In Question 7, Jim asks whether Wisconsin’s liquor law should be changed. Then in Question 10, Jim wants our multiple-choice answer to his question about Wisconsin’s state budget priorities. What’s going on here? This brave new wrong-wing Republican is moving to exercise more federal power over state governments! (Meanwhile, his counterparts in the state legislature are moving to exercise state control over local governments with the TABOR maneuver.)

James’ question about Social Security neglects to mention that the Social Security Trust Fund, consisting of genuine U.S. Treasury Bonds, will maintain a surplus while paying full benefits, under very conservative economic C.B.O. projections for at least the next 3 or 4 decades. He neglects to mention that the Social Security insurance program is, by far, the most fiscally sound federal government program in existence. That, in stark contrast, the entire rest of the federal budget is operating, right now, at a record high deficit that will hamstring the economy and future generations. And that America is experiencing, right now, an ominous record high trade deficit. James irresponsibly included one option for us to chose from “to ensure the solvency of Social Security” that everyone else, including finally the President, knows cannot help with that problem. In fact, it will worsen the solvency issue. That bogus option is converting Social Security funds from the existing survivors, disability and old age insurance program to individual privatized stock portfolios. What’s that man doing behind the curtain with the smoke and mirrors? Tinkering destructively with Social Security, while the huge neglected budget and trade deficits loom, is like Nero fiddling while Rome burns.

That brings up James’ perennial brilliant question, number 8, with which he doubtlessly harvests bushels of Yes votes each year. James wants a Constitutional amendment that requires a balanced federal budget. Need we remind James that while he was busy with a witch hunt attack on the previous administration, the federal government experienced, for the first and only time in our lifetimes, back to back budget surpluses? Republicans now control the Administration AND both houses of Congress. And they wasted no time losing those surpluses and driving us into record deficits. What kind of management is that? We don’t need no stinking Constitutional Amendment. We need some honesty and responsibility from our elected officials. Your perennial question is way out of line, James, now that we can see what you and your cohorts do when you have all the marbles, and you have no alibis and no one to blame but yourself.

James asks whether tax cuts should be made permanent. But he neglects to mention that the vast bulk of the deficit ballooning tax cuts enacted after 2000, benefit the very richest of the rich. For example, the estate tax repeal, which he refuses to call by that name, has the effect of exempting the major source of wealth and income for the American aristocracy from ANY taxation whatsoever.

There’s not a hint in James’ Annual Questionnaire that many of his constituents feel that provisions in NAFTA and GATS and the WTO have important negative impacts on the economy, and on people’s employment and income prospects and their children’s future, let alone the environment and human rights. Isn’t that a vital issue?

There is no question from James about the impact on people of the continuing and deepening crisis in America with our patchwork, full-of-holes, employer-based, insurance industry-managed health care “system” that costs far more per capita than any of the national health insurance systems the rest of the world uses. Isn’t that a vital issue?

There is no question about climate change, or the dependency on high consumption of fossil fuels. There’s nothing about clean air and water, and protection of America’s legacy of wilderness for future generations. Aren’t those vital issues?

There is no mention in James’ Questionnaire of the preemptive invasion and occupation of Iraq that was justified with reasons which have proved to be completely false, or the officially condoned violations of the Geneva Accords and our Bill of Rights, or the violent deaths of more than one hundred thousand people, mostly women and children, caused by military actions of the Coalition forces. There is no question asking what the American people feel about continuing and even extending this “preemptive” military activity to other countries. There is no question about the back-door draft and abuse of members of the National Guard and their families. Aren’t those vital issues?

The Questionnaire concludes by seeking approval for cutting out the drop-in-the-bucket funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Humanities.

So the 109th Congress is involved with vital issues, eh James? Like, for instance, special sessions to stick Federal Congressional noses into the wrenching tragedy and dissension experienced by one most unfortunate family? Wrong wing Congressmen and sanctimonious talk show hosts who extol the virtues of upholding the law and traditional American family values abandoned those values, along with a decent respect for privacy. Fundamentalist Western religious dictates designate the husband as the unquestioned head of the family. But these Congressmen and commentators now unaccountably advocate traditional Confucian family values, which assign precedence to the rights of parents over and above the spouse. Moreover, the law in America unambiguously places the legal right and responsibility on the spouse. (Chose yours well, for the courts must respect that choice.) If there is no spouse, adult children have that responsibility. Only if there is no spouse and no adult children do parents have a legal say. After that come siblings, and finally a court appointed legal guardian. Sorry. That’s the law. If you don’t like the law, change the law. Don’t assail the courts for upholding the law. The tragedy and the dissension experienced by that family was not a proper object of Congressional interference and grandstanding, and Congress wasted the people’s time and money.

Your mailbox stuffer was again loaded with nonsense and no-brainers, James.

April 21, 2005

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