Grandstanding is not governance – not even close

As someone who follows the news and used to hold most elected officials in higher esteem, I am continually frustrated with the absence of good governance in Washington and various state capitols. Rather than governance, I see grandstanding for sound bytes to beat the other party over the head with. The purpose is to remain or regain power, where they will be in charge of doing nothing to govern.

Several Congressional representatives and Senators have retired or are retiring. The principal reasons are the disillusionment with the open hostility between factions and the fact over 1/3 of their time (some said 40%) is fundraising for the party. Let me say that last part in a different way. We taxpayers are paying for elected officials to hit us up for money between 33% and 40% of the time.

In essence, elected officials are more interested in keeping their jobs than doing their jobs. A further frustration is the number of folks who just don’t bother to reach out to all constituents and only care about their own party. The truth has become a casualty. And, what is sad is those who pay attention to the news know many of these elected officials are lying and know they know they are lying, but they lie anyway.

Grandstanding is a pronounced way of lying drawing attention to the person so doing. To me, it is akin to a gorilla beating on its chest to make an opponent cower and not fight back. Right now, we have an entire party that is OK with the US defaulting on its debts. Increasing the debt ceiling is to address what we have already spent or decided to spend, which the same folks did not seem to mind doing. Or, they cut revenue which also increased the debt.

In fact, many of these same folks voted on a tax bill in December, 2017 that reduced taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals which raised the debt by $2 trillion, approximately. In essence, we added to debt to make a pretty good economy a little better for a little while. Per the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, we must do both – cut spending and raise revenue to address our deficit and debt. The math will otherwise not work.

I have shared with several Senators it is OK to push back on spending to make sure we consider the best investments, but grandstanding on a debt limit that you helped make worse is not the place to do it. Before the pandemic, the US was around $22 trillion in debt with a $1 trillion annual shortfall on our budget ($3.4 trillion in revenue on $4.4 trillion in expenses). After needed pandemic stimulus, we are even worse off on debt and scheduled to be even further behind.

The last time we had a debt limit standoff was about eight years ago, led by Senator Ted Cruz (who by the way voted for the tax bill increase noted above increasing the debt). Our allies pleaded with us not to renege and when the US was within twenty-four hours of defaulting, ten female Senators from both parties told Cruz and others to get out of the pool for an adult swim. These ten women resolved the matter and the US did not default.

Our debt and deficit has been caused by both parties. Do not let either party say it is the other one’s fault as that simply is not true. And, we need for both of them to be involved to remedy this. Unfortunately, no one has the stomach to do what it really takes to resolve this. Any elected official can spend money and reduce taxes. Any elected official. But, that is precisely the problem. We need serious discussion with data and not grandstanding. Grandstanding is not governance.

Smugness and righteous indignation hide other faults

Reading two pieces today, reminded me of two stories about politicians that are often fairly smug with people with whom they disagree. They also deploy what I call faux righteous indignation, which is insincere at best and disingenuous at worst. The stories involve Senators Orrin Hatch and Ted Cruz.

Senator Hatch has been a lynchpin on two separate Judiciary hearings for the two Supreme Court justices who have been accused of sexual assault and harassment. His faux anger at both tried to  belittle the efforts of the women and elevate the men. His posturing aided the approval of these men.

Yet, the story that reminded me of another Hatch effort appeared today regarding the lack of oversight of the $50 billion supplemental drug industry. Hatch has led a crusade over the years to keep the supplemental drug industry less regulated. As a result, contraemptive and even dangerous chemicals find their way into these drugs. Yet, people believe these drugs are regulated and safe like medical drugs. They are also sold by retailers pushing product. People have been negatively impacted by these drugs. Smugness won’t change that. Action will. It should be noted Hatch has received many donations from this industry and his son is employed in such.

Senator Cruz has been a lightning rod for years holding up legislation. He has been quite strident and smug in his beliefs to the point of dysfunction. To me, his claim of solving Washington’s problems ring hollow, as he is representative of the problem – he refuses to collaborate.

As I was writing a comment about the need for more women in Congress, I was reminded of how ten female Senators stopped the US from reneging on all of its debts, a problem caused by Cruz when he  single-handedly shut down the government over Obamacare. Since Cruz is a Tea Partier, he was less concerned if we reneged on our debts. Yet, other countries were begging us not to do this as was the World Bank.

These ten women stepped in at past the 11th hour and negotiated a deal. Reneging on commitments does not show well. They saved the US from itself and uncollaborative people like Cruz. It should be noted that if Cruz was so concerned by the debt, why did he vote to pass the Tax Bill last December increasing the debt by $1.5 trillion? The word your searching for is hypocrisy.

Hatch is retiring from the Senate after this term. It truly is time for him to go. Cruz is in a competitive race with his Democrat opponent – Beta O’Rourke. He will likely win, but we will have a more collaborative Congress if he does not. To be frank, the only good thing about Trump winning the GOP nomination is Ted Cruz did not.

Smugness and righteous indignation do not make the person right. Many people reacted favorably to Judge Kavanaugh because of his righteous indignation. When you see it, dig deeper and ask more questions. There usually is more there.