In the NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll of November 1, the current 113th Congress was described as the worst Congress ever. Among the poll’s findings: The lawmakers have only enacted 24 substantive laws while the 106th Congress of 1999-2000 passed 463 laws; 85% of Americans disapproved of Congress’s poor performance; a whopping 65% of Americans would like to boot all of Congressional members out of office, including their own representatives.
I strongly agree with the poll’s findings. Congress has failed to serve its citizens, including Filipino Americans. It has failed to stabilize the nation’s financial position in the world, preferring to take the easy way out by kicking the can down the road. Its draconian budget cuts have disproportionally hit minorities, children, women, veterans, and the poor. And if this wasn’t bad enough, Congress’srepeated efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (it unsuccessfully voted to repeal it 42 times during this session)threatens millions of medically indigent persons. Moreover, its proposal to cut food stamps by $30 billion threatens to keep needed food from working poor individuals.
In an earlier column I wrote about my parents’ joy about finally being able to exercise their constitutional right to vote as U.S. citizens in post-World War II America. They strongly believed in American democracy and its opportunities. My parents grew up as part of the peasant multitude inoligarchic Philippines where privilege was only enjoyed bythe few. They chose to immigrate to America where opportunity was more possible for their children, and where the unprivileged were assured equal and compassionate treatment under the American style of governance.
My parents may now be gone but I wonder what they would think about the callous and mean-spirited manner in which the 113th Congress has treated the most vulnerable and needy of its citizens, especially Filipino Americans.I’ll really never know for certain but I know what I would want to see happen. To minimize the power of money and lobbying that now influence legislators, I suggest laws be enacted to:
- Control the practice of gerrymandering where congressional district lines are drawn to include a preponderance of voters favoring one political party, thus discouraging opposition and assuring incumbents to stay in office.
- Overturn the Citizens United case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled individuals and corporations could contribute an unlimited amount to politicians, thus neutralizing the contributions of ordinary voters.
- Change the rules regarding filibusters that now force the 100 member Senate to have 60 votes to pass legislation rather than 51 votes, thus making a mockery of the “majority rules” standard.
- Direct the army to discontinue using costly World War II style equipment and armament more appropriate to fighting large armies. Instead, develop more effective arms and personnel deployment to be used against present day terrorism.
- Eliminate subsidies to oil companies. Their profits are already massive; they don’t deserve subsidies.
- Reaffirm America’s commitment for the right to vote rather than discouraging voting by false claims of voter fraud and through such efforts as requiring photo ID’s and reducing early voting.
- Reform U.S. immigration policy.
Maybe you have a better idea. Let me know.