Does anybody else ever wonder what Congress does all day? All I see is random senators and representatives on MSNBC and CNN and Faux News complaining about how their party tried to do X, Y, and Z, while the opposing party shot them down because they are anti-American and they’re evil and they don’t wash behind their ears and they club baby seals and they cut off all the Do Not Remove tags on mattresses. So what are they doing and why does so little legislation actually get passed?
Enter: The Poison Pill, language tacked onto a bill which makes the bill un-passable by the other party while simultaneously creating confrontational talking points to feed to the media.
Say Robert the Republican and Dan the Democrat have a big problem to solve and they both have ideas about how it needs to be done. Dan has his solution all set and ready to go, but he also has an election coming up. He could either A) convince Robert to go along with his solution and thereby ingratiate himself with his core constituency or B) include provisions that Robert would *never* agree to and use Robert’s refusal as evidence that Republicans are playing partisan politics and that they are not working toward the betterment of the American people.
Isn’t America grand?
Take a look at these three fairly recent examples from NPR:
1. Social Security
Last winter, Congress deadlocked on a bill to extend Social Security payroll taxcuts through 2012. The Democrats proposed extending the taxcuts and paying for the cost by increasing the taxes on Americans who make more than $1million a year. Clearly, Republicans would never go for that, and they didn’t. In response, the GOP proposed covering the cost by enacting a pay freeze on civil servants.
2. Violence Against Women
Democrats proposed a bill to further protect women from violence, but they added a provision for gays and transgendered persons. That’s a no-go for the GOP. Republicans voted it down and instead replaced the provision with one of their own, requiring cooperation from abused illegal immigrants when investigating their abusers. Democrats then made the media rounds saying Republicans don’t care about women.
3. Student Loans
Student loan interest rates will double for many Americans on July 1. Democrats proposed a bill that covered the cost by increasing taxes on many super-profitable privately-owned companies. Republicans said no and restructured the bill; financing should come as a result of scrapping Obama’s healthcare overhaul. Democrats are refusing. Republicans have gone to the press saying Democrats decided “protecting the Democrats’ government takeover of health care was more important than helping future college graduates.”
And this is our government. A pissing contest to see who can be the baddest, yell the loudest, complain the most, and crybaby their way into what they want. There’s no such thing as compromise; it’s all or nothing.
We should just scrap the whole system and let kindergarten teachers run Congress. At least they know how to share and make nice.