Who’s Paying

Written by B.G. Howard

May 26, 2021

I’ve always denied being either religious or political, having little trust in either institutional entity. For the sake of clarification: I’m spiritual and I vote for the lesser of the two evils, be it democrat or republican. Ironically, the two perceived polar opposites collided when I was blessed to see Pope Francis address a joint session of congress last week. His historic message to the politicians was rather direct and very clear throughout with the point being repeatedly driven home that people have to be willing to work together. Conveyed to both Democrats and Republicans was the fact that they need to embrace the idea their positions are designed for serving those who elected them.

What struck me most about the Pope’s address to congress was his resolve that the bi-partisan attitudes of elected officials offer little benefit to the people of the country they’re supposed to serve. The chief responsibility of the body of politicians, he stated, is to work together for the purpose of enabling the country by way of legislative activities to grow as a nation. Oddly enough, Pope Francis noted the political leaders are called to preserve and protect the dignity of the citizens of our country.

Those comments seemed somewhat misdirected given reports of the fact our central government teeters on the verge of a second shut-down in less than two years. The primary concern being due to congressional members’ inability to agree on the details of Planned Parenthood funding; an earmark attached to the necessary legislation required to keep our government functional.

It baffles me as to how, not to mention, why any congressional member would attach potentially controversial legislation to a bill with such significance as one that is essential for the operation of our government. To understand the term, an earmark is a provision in a piece of Congressional legislation directing “marked” federal funds to specific projects, programs, organizations, or individuals: Lawmakers requested almost 40,000 earmarks totaling more than $100 billion directed to their home districts and states between election periods. Consequently, members of congress use this tactic as a method of pushing controversial agendas through because if any bill is passed all associated ear marks also pass by default.

The most unfortunate issue is, this type manipulation of the system only serves to increase the already congested infrastructure of the political process and the overall cost of operating our government. As it stands, there is an ear mark granting funding to the Planned Parenthood organization attached to the bill needed for continued operation of our federal government. Because some members of congress aren’t in agreement with certain recently disclosed practices of the organization, a vote on the bill currently before the legislative body is being delayed.

This same behavior facilitated the shut-down of our federal government in 2013 costing the American people more money than we’d care to spend on anything without a lifetime warranty. Standard & Poor’s estimated the 16-day federal shutdown that year cost us $24 billion, and reduced fourth quarter 2013 GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth by about 0.6%.

Alan Grayson, U. S. Representative for Florida’s 9th congressional district and member of the Democratic Party points out “the Constitution is quite clear on how you change a law—you pass another law. First, one chamber of Congress, then the other, then the president’s signature, or a veto override and, every so often, the U.S. Supreme Court will repeal a law by ruling it unconstitutional. Government shutdowns don’t enter into the picture.”

The situation in 2013 developed because Congressional Republicans exhausted all efforts to amend or repeal the Affordable Care Act. Two years later, we face fears of another shutdown because elected officials can’t get it through their thick heads the people footing the bill for all the ridiculously taxing (literally) benefits they enjoy voted them into office to do a job. The current crisis is due to the GOP’s (Grand Old Party – an epithet of the Republican Party since 1880) differences on funding Planned Parenthood. Though I don’t agree with every service provided by the organization they do, by the way, offer a few important benefits to underprivileged women.

Still, my question remains; what does all the senseless rant about irrelevant issues have to do with the focal point of our government’s central operation? Perhaps it would better serve elected officials to “simply” serve the citizens of this country the way its founders originally purposed. Take the political ulterior motives out of politics, stop slinging the proverbial mud across the isles of the house and senate so our great country can revisit the standard it once exampled at a price we can all afford. I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.

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