So, a pretty significant number of Americans want a balanced approached to the fiscal issues, they want to keep programs in place and "close loopholes" as well as raising taxes, and they blame the Republicans for this stand-off. The majority has spoken...
And yet, John Boehner and his cronies refuse to believe this and continue to play brinkmanship with the President over this. I say, "Good!"
The only way to break this brinkmanship politics scenario is to get those idiots out of office! I think that, if this latest fiscal policy comes into play, the American people will demand accountability and will vote some of these career politicians out of office, most especially Mr. Boehner and his cronies. The public may even demand Congressional term limits finally, which is the only sane thing to do and one of the few ways to keep partisan politics from being a constant and ever-growing threat.
Here are my solutions to this problem:
- No more than two terms. For the first 125 years or so of Congress, it was exceptionally rare for a Congressman to serve longer than two terms. They went home and had to live under the laws they had written. In the early/mid-1900s, Congress started passing laws that gave themselves higher salaries, fewer limits, lifetime healthcare, lifetime salaries, the ability to do insider trading legally, etc. Now that the money was rolling in, America started seeing career politicians and the divisiveness began.
- Perks only while in office. As I mentioned above, Congress passed laws that allowed them to increase their own salaries, provide for those salaries for life, gave themselves lifetime health care, and other perks (like travel, housing, food allowances, etc.). If they had to leave all those perks behind when leaving office and go back to living under the laws they have written and passed during their time in office, they would care a great deal more about those laws and what they say.
- Easier to get kicked out. Right now, the path for the public to kick a Senator or House member out is difficult and involves getting other Congressmen to perform the act. Well, gee, that seems self-serving. What Congressman wants to try to kick another Congressman out of office, knowing the bad blood he will be creating when doing so? If the Congressmen knew the public had a way (maybe by a majority vote or some sort of write-in campaign) to start this ball rolling, rather than the Congressmen policing themselves, they would sure try a lot harder to do the right thing by their constituents.
- Lower salaries. Right now, the average Congressman is paid approximately $175,000 a year, with leadership roles at or slightly above approximately $200,000 a year. The average salary in America is approximately $50,000 a year. Let's change the Congressional salaries to be 10% above the mean salary in America, with leadership roles getting mean plus 20%. In this way, people who want to serve the people will go for offices, instead of people who want to make a career of politics for the money and perks.
- All laws apply equally to all Americans, Congress included. It is completely legal for Congressmen to use their (inside) knowledge of laws and contracts while making stock purchases. It is illegal for anyone else in America to use insider information when making stock trades. Let's restrict Congress from making any stock trades at all while in office (on penalty of immediate, automatic expulsion). All current laws that give Congressmen perks and privileges that are not shared by all Americans will be repealed.
I think these five simple steps will ensure that Congress is working for the people, not for themselves. By putting term limits and reasonable limitations on Congress, you ensure that the people in office are there because they feel a need to serve the public. It is still a cushy job, just not one that you can go to and expect to stay in for dozens of years and make millions of dollars at. And, most importantly, you have to live and work under the laws you wrote and passed once you are out of office.
I doubt you will see the same sort of brinkmanship politics as has been evident for the last 15 years or so if, over that time, entirely new Congressmen had to be elected and work together. Knowing you had, at most, two terms to serve, I think most Congressmen would focus on the job and not the politics. I could be wrong, but I'm willing to pass these laws and see if I'm right. How about you?