Blog: Weary of Washington and that 'fiscal cliff'?

11:13 PM, Jan 1, 2013   |    comments
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Would you keep your job if you missed deadlines, fought with your co-workers and didn't care about your "customers"? I highly doubt it.

Even a "politics junkie" like myself was totally dismayed with a Congress that refused to work together for the majority of Americans to avoid the "fiscal cliff."

That's right. White or black, old or young, Christian or Jewish, man or woman -- the "majority" of Americans do not make more than $400,000 annually. Republicans were fighting to keep -- among other things -- tax cuts for the wealthy.

Those who are on Social Security, about to qualify for Social Security or paying part of their paycheck every week to build their Social Security for the future could only stand by helplessly as Congress played partisan politics with their lives.

Tuesday night I had one eye on the Florida State-Northern Illinois football game and the other eye on my laptop watching the U.S. House voting. They finally passed the bill just after 11 p.m. Tuesday.

Now I'm all for a healthy debate with both sides presenting differing opinions but as I watched the House vote late Tuesday night on the Senate resolution to avoid going over the "fiscal cliff," I saw a group of our "representatives" standing around as the votes were being cast.

They talked (we couldn't hear them) and smiled and even a few laughed as the votes were being counted. Now, this is serious business, folks, so what the heck were they thinking? Were they discussing how they celebrated New Year's Eve?

I'll tell you what many other Americans were thinking about New Year's Eve -- they wondered if their unemployment benefits would run out or if about 30 million Americans would face a hefty $2,420 tax hike if the Alternative Minimum Tax wasn't adjusted again so it wouldn't expire.

See, what I don't understand is that the November election is over and the winners and losers are known. So, it was up to Congress to stop campaigning, lick their wounds or celebrate, and get back to work on something they knew was coming all year long.

But they kept up their partisan politics and began playing a game of "chicken" with the lives of their constituents, waiting to see who would flinch first.

But, as Capt. Bart Mancuso (played by Scott Glenn) said in the movie "The Hunt for Red October," "The hard part about playing chicken is knowing when to flinch."

Seems like no one in Congress wanted to be the first to flinch.

So, the days and weeks went by with enough rhetoric and posturing to fill an Italian opera while Americans were bombarded with dire warnings about what would happen if Congress didn't act by midnight New Year's Eve.

No one could imagine that Congress would drag it out that long, each side digging in their heels and holding press conference after press conference. There were so many announcements that they began to look like the omnipresent Target TV commercials for Christmas shopping.

Then, the midnight deadline passed and no vote had been taken.

What now? Did we go over the cliff? They didn't meet their deadline.

But wait, there's more.

The Senate reconvenes New Year's Day, votes, and sends it to the House. Then the House talks some more, then takes a vote to accept the Senate bill. The bill is now on the way to The White House for President Obama's signature.

Now, we learn they can make the bill retroactive to midnight Dec. 31, 2012.

So, they missed the long ballyhooed deadline but apparently that was only a deadline that "average Americans" were worried about.

Rules apparently only apply to us mere mortals.

But don't think that Congress got a free pass on this.

Battered by an economy that is only slow recovering -- and soured by the spectacle of Washington dysfunction in the "fiscal cliff" debate -- views of the nation's future and its fundamental promise have darkened in the four years since Barack Obama's first inauguration, according to USAToday.

Then, even during an unfolding financial crisis, Americans believed by a double-digit margin that it was likely young people would have a better life than their parents, one facet of the classic American dream.

Now, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds they're narrowly inclined to say that's not likely. By 50 percent-47 percent, respondents say the country's best years are behind us.

In the new poll, more than three of four Americans say the way politics works in Washington is causing serious harm to the country.

Their worries are job layoffs, home foreclosures, and that deficit spending, government regulations and the health care overhaul law are eroding individual freedoms.

Americans may be divided about President Obama's ability to lead but they are united in their disdain for Congress and Washington. By 4-1, Americans disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job.

According to USAToday, the "Perils-of-Pauline" negotiations over the year-end budget and tax negotiations dubbed the "fiscal cliff" have fueled the sense that the government no longer functions as it should.

Americans are asking: Why can't Congress be accountable for not doing their job? Have they forgotten why they're there?

If you did your job like they did their job on this, you would be given a pink slip. It's not that easy with elected officials. But maybe it should be.


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