Symposium 2012: What are your thoughts on the Congress and the job it is doing?

RMC3: Let’s see. The Senate hasn’t passed a budget in years, and the House keeps giving Obama everything he wants. The House was ready to take one for the team in this whole fiscal cliff debate. So, I’d say they’re an abject failure just like the last Congress. They’re all up there on Capitol Hill doing their little dog and pony show but it’s all just PR. They’re not going to do anything about spending. They haven’t done anything about the spending over the last couple years except get us deeper and deeper in debt. They haven’t done anything about entitlement reform that we’ve needed for decades. There’s more partisan bickering than ever before, so I’m hard pressed to have a favorable opinion of the Congress at this point.

But the blame can’t fall solely on the Congress. It takes two to tango as the old saying goes, and we’re in a situation right now where Obama feels it’s his way or the highway and he isn’t willing to make any meaningful concessions particularly in the spending department. Thus, we’ve got a temporarily dysfunctional system where there isn’t much getting done.

Sydney: The current debate regarding the fiscal cliff and the unwillingness of either party to compromise is the latest example proving that Congress is not just doing a bad job but that it’s hardly doing any job at all. These are elected representatives who are supposed to be doing their best to help the country operate at its maximum potential.

Instead, the last couple of years has been littered with examples of obstructionism and an apparent inability of the Republicans and Democrats to find common ground so that they can actually move the country forward. Of course it’s not the job of the Republicans to rubber stamp Democrat policies. It is right that any new piece of legislation should be scrutinized. The question is when does scrutiny give way to obstructionism and political point scoring. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that this is happening. It could perhaps be argued that the Republicans are adopting this approach in order to appease the ultra conservative ‘tea party’ element within the party. We can only hope that the Congress manages to find a balance and begin to function as the people rightly expect it to.

Cartwright: The Congress is much like the rest of our government right now…a vast embarrassment. We’ve got a president who doesn’t know how to lead; he’s like a spoiled little kid who stomps his foot down and says, “No, Mommy, I’m not going to eat my vegetables!” His election day win has only elevated his arrogance to new levels. He thinks he has a mandate to push his own liberal agenda down the throats of the American people. He’s hasn’t shown much concern about doing what’s right for the country and all the people. No, he’s more concerned about forcing his ideology upon the rest of us. He’s like the schoolyard bully, and the Congress are like a bunch of little wimps that are scared of him and are afraid to stand up to him.

Hell, shut the government down. It isn’t working the way it is, and if this is the only way to save money, so be it. Let’s go over the cliff and get it over with then start getting our finances in order.

We’ve got a Congress that just keeps fighting back and forth. The Senate doesn’t know what’s going on; they’re all sitting around on their hands doing nothing. The House is fighting amongst itself. If these people really cared about the good of the nation, they wouldn’t be taking us down this road to financial ruin. We wouldn’t be debating this fiscal cliff issue. We wouldn’t be running trillion dollar deficits.

The sad reality is that the Congress doesn’t want to cut spending. Everyone there has only one objective on their minds—preservation of power and re-election. Not one of them is willing to go back home to their constituents and tell them funding got cut for some local programme. They’re not willing to take that kind of heat and jeopardize their re-election prospects, so they’re just going to keep bringing home the bacon to their districts with no regards for the financial well being of this nation. They’ll do and say whatever it takes to keep their positions of power. It’s a sad indictment of the Congress, but it’s the reality of the world we live in.

These are supposed to be smart people on Capitol Hill, right? Well, when you’re in the Congress and the Congress overall has an abysmal approval rating down in the 20% range, don’t you think you’d get together with everyone else and say, ‘We’ve got a problem here. Why do we have such low approval ratings?’ But see, the members of Congress may have high approval ratings in their districts at home, so why should they care what the rest of the country thinks about the Congress as a whole.

It’s just really sad that our country is in the mess it’s in and the Congress seems to be sitting up on Capitol Hill playing the violin. There’s no incentive for the Congress to get anything done. They’re still getting their fat paychecks and kickbacks from lobbyists and special interest groups. Oh, wait, we’re not allowed to say that, are we? That’s all hush hush.

Maybe it’s high time we gave them some incentive, like you don’t get paid until you’ve solved our nation’s problems. Or why don’t we let the people vote on their pay? Every year the voters in each district get a survey in the mail and get to check the box next to the pay they feel their congressman deserves…$0, $18,000, $45,000, $75,000, $120,000 or their full pay? Or how about term limits? Would that give them some incentive to actually do the work of the people, knowing that they don’t have to run for re-election so they have nothing to gain by playing politics in Washington?
Michigan: On 12-30-12 the Rasmussen Report survey found that 5% of U.S. voters rated Congress’s performance as good or excellent, while 69% viewed their performance as poor. Both sides of the isle have to quit acting like third grade bullies and do what it takes to save this country.

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