Chuck Bino: Demand more from national leaders

Dec. 09, 2012 @ 01:16 AM

Can we survive this Congress and president?
A more practical question is “Can either of these do the jobs for which they were elected?”  By the election results, more than half of the electorate in both parties thought these can, or should, finish their tasks. The easiest thing would have been to “throw all the bums out” for getting us into this situation.  Rather than push the “fix” onto outsiders or a “second string,” the electorate saw fit to return the same incompetents who failed to perform.  So, they can’t simply slink comfortably from the public eye as election losers might do. Rather, they must now perform admirably or not only are their “legacies” doomed, but so is our nation. These are truly critical times.
They may not be up to the task, judging by past and current performances. Consider that our president has been in campaign mode almost since his first inauguration, naively making promises he knew weren’t feasible.  Our Congress was happily making “earmark” deals with the new administration in order to pass the ACA.  Lobbyists and capitalist cronies, from Wall Street to Solyndra, were the game changers and winners in the first term.   The follow-up question becomes, “Did we expect this president and his Congress in 2008 to behave any differently than previous ones?”   There are volumes written on such expectations, criticisms and suggested remedies.  It may be instructive to review some of these.
This from a liberal source: http://bostonreview.net/BR36.3/ndf_jim_cooper_response_fixing_congress.php
“Similarly taxpayers and academics today have lost hope of incentivizing better congressional behavior, although, as I point out, special interests have been doing this for decades. I think it is obvious who gets more for their money. Must we continue to ignore the advantage that special interests possess?”
More: “Why not curb logrolling and require clear standalone votes on major issues? President Reagan called for an end to omnibus legislation. Congress finally spotlighted and, for two years, has temporarily banned earmarks.”
Like the Bush tax cuts, does anyone think that ban will remain or lobbying be diminished?
It’s easy to understand that members of Congress get paid whether they perform or not, that just showing up is expecting a lot. Consider our current president as a former senator from Illinois, where his voting “present” was sometimes adequate for him.  It’s also very easy to condemn and despise this behavior. What is difficult is how to remedy the poor performance or link it to their compensation.
Some have tried to eliminate their pensions: http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/budget/206563-lawmakers-pitch-cuts-reforms-to-congressional-pensions
On excessive raises voted to themselves compared with the average worker, some want to tie them to the inflation rate.  Others believe that a merit system with performance bonuses would replace their reliance on lobbyist funding. The truth is that almost all the Senate are multi-millionaires. From another liberal source: “The median net worth of members of Congress is about $913,000, compared with about $100,000 for the country at large, the Times’ analysis found.”
See: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/12/as-americans-get-poorer-members-of-congress-get-richer/
Does this make anyone question the inner motives or sincerity of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, the president, and others about standing up for middle-income families?
The point is that a merit system of compensation for Congress, even the largess from lobbyists, should not be “incentives” for these folks. They don’t need the money! Then, what drives this system of corrupted deals and influence peddling?  Perhaps it’s about power or simply being part of the social, influential and “center ring” circus of Washington.
As their employers, we are the sources of true change. Call your members of Congress and insist they do their jobs.

Chuck Bino lives in High Point with his wife, Sue, after technical and management careers in manufacturing and retail. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.