Monday, July 16th, 2018

Congress fights battles without regard for citizens

Posted on November 11, 2013 in Perspectives
By jensmith

Congress members are out of touch with the constituents they serve. This is apparent from the impasse in communication that caused the federal government to screech to a halt affecting millions of Americans.

The abrupt halt in government was not really about the deficit: the deficit rhetoric was merely a guise for Republicans to try to force the defunding of the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, as the first step to appeal it. Much to their chagrin, the Supreme Court upheld the act’s constitutionality, and in the last month or so, the healthcare website launch has been disastrous for Obama and everyone associated with it.

Republicans have capitalized on the calamity by attacking Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius during a congressional hearing on Wednesday, Oct. 30. Does their behavior constitute conduct unbecoming of an elected official in the federal government? You decide.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, mockingly said at the Oct. 30 Healthcare.gov hearing, “Madam Secretary, while you’re from Kansas, we’re not in Kansas anymore. Some might say that we are actually in ‘The Wizard of Oz’-land, given the parallel universes we appear to be habituating [sic].”

Clearly offended by Barton’s and other representative’s remarks, Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., said that people who aren’t from Kansas shouldn’t be allowed to make comments about Oz.

Taunting has no place in Congress, an esteemed government body. The congressional body debates difficult issues and create laws that govern the United States. Much time is wasted with personal attacks that would be better spent brainstorming, debating and creating solutions to the significant problems our country faces.

The shutdown, however, affected hardworking Americans: those who worked for the government or performed services as a subcontractor did not get their paychecks. I found it unfortunate and self-serving. House representatives used furloughed government employees and the very people who counted on government programs, including the elderly who rely upon social security checks, as leverage.

Ordinary American citizens suffered, or were at least inconvenienced, by the representatives’ immaturity, lack of respect and decorum for their elected position, which keep in mind they owe to the constituents back home.

Congress members do not feel their constituents’ pain either with the shutdown or with the Affordable Care Act. Members of congress and the senate have their own government health care. They are not as invested as they would be if they had the same options as the rest of us.

Did the representatives feel the pain in their wallets? No, some received their checks as usual. Even though representatives were eligible to receive their paychecks, a number of representatives and senators donated, did not accept a check or only took a check if furloughed federal employees would be compensated for their work during the shutdown. In fact, our two senators, Susan Collins and Angus King fell into the last category.

When hypocrisy and entitlement are rampant in Washington, the selfless acts of representatives and senators is certainly a model for what elected officials should do. They also need to get to know the ordinary citizens in their states and how government policies affect them in their daily lives.

In the future, I hope to see bipartisanship in the House and Senate, something sorely lacking. It would be great to see the government address the needs of average American citizens who are the backbone of our nation, not just the wealthy and elite.

Jen Smith is a Free Press intern.

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