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10/16/2013 10:52:00 AM Column: Politics in full swing despite no election
Craig Sterrett NT News Editor
I’m not complaining. But it’s just weird not having a November election. It feels unnatural not having mayoral, aldermanic, congressional and state legislative stories and campaign events to cover during fall. Usually the staff here has packed its schedule with calls and chores to be done with profiles of all candidates and referendum issues by now, and they’re splitting up duties covering candidates’ forums and campaign controversies in the two weeks before election. By now, the candidates usually are in full swing shaking hands, handing out trinkets with their names on them and seeking votes of voters young and old. Despite no election this fall, the public isn’t spared from politicking. The politicians in Washington seem genetically unable to work on issues or think outside party or partisan-sectarian lines. They keep pushing their agendas rather than working to fix things that need fixing, to kill things that need killing and to enact things that require action. Many Americans have Seasonal Affective Disorder, a sort of fall and early winter depression. It seems Congress has Seasonal Defective Disorder: Even in a non-election year, the House and Senate Democrats, Republicans, lberals, libertarians and Tea Party folks seem unable to function in non-campaign mode. Yes, the health care law appears riddled with problems, black holes and hidden costs, and yes, Congress needs to keep spending in check. But do the opposing sides need to be so juxtaposed that they can’t even pay the bills? And is Congress’ behavior this October worse than any other month in the past 50 years of U.S. history? Are they just conditioned to get into campaign-only, accomplish-nothing mode each fall? Is it just a coincidence? I think not. Republican and conservative hero Ronald Reagan once had to settle Congress down in a similar situation and remind them that even the specter of the United States defaulting on obligations and bills would be catastrophic. Oh, note that Reagan’s speech on the debt ceiling came in late September 1987. Hmmm, shenanigans and threats by Congress in a non-election year? During the past three years, a few individuals in Washington have been playing Russian roulette with threats of, “If we don’t get our way, we’ll drive over the fiscal cliff.” But I don’t know about you: I pay my bills immediately to avoid even a tiny accidental slip-up. Some of the Tea Party/libertarian group’s ideals are admirable, but like many ideals, seeing them through to reality appears impossible. Early this week, the Senate Republicans and Democrats were reaching an agreement that they thought might be palatable to a majority in the House. It included a concession/ perk for insurance companies. I’m not trying to sound like MSNBC here, but didn’t “Obamacare” pass because of deals made to benefit insurance companies and weren’t many portions of the act added by Republicans? Again, I’m not trying to sound like a liberal here, but wouldn’t the politicians be debating some sort of health care plan anyway if Republican Mitt Romney had been elected? La Salle County's former Republican committee leader Pat Wagner definitely would not agree. She says she hopes the House Republicans stay strong and stand with the Tea Party and other allies that can make the party strong and not allow the president to dictate the future of the country. “I’m elated that they’re holding firm and they’re not caving in to what Obama wants,” Wagner said Tuesday. Bureau County Republican committee leader Barry Welbers says some Republicans in the county want the House Republicans to hold the line, and some feel there is nothing being accomplished by the effort in the House. “Well clearly I don’t feel good about it. It’s a stalemate; it’s not productive and it’s the wrong thing to do. I’m not blaming the House. I’m blaming them all collectively,” Welbers said. “I don’t believe the House Republicans are the problem. They’re there attempting to accomplish the things their voters elected them to do, but they’re dealing with a totally inflexible Senate leader and a totally inflexible president.”
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