Prelude to a Postmortem – Politics as Usual

I was encouraged to post this past article of mine while having a discussion with my blogging friend, LA.  You should check out her blog – just click on the link.

And to put that article in context with today’s Congress, I remember reading about how the House of Representatives, of this 116th Congress, had passed over 400 pieces of legislation, but also about how the Senate leadership refused to bring any of that legislation before the Senate for a vote, to draft a compromise bill, or even draft an alternative bill to address those same issues. It seems the Senate was too busy packing the Courts to consider legislation that might actually help the people.

Not a very efficient group.  The Senate.  Where most of the power lies in Congress.

This, of course, partially explains why the US approval rating for Congress is only at 15 percent.  And studies have shown that Congress (both Chambers) only pass legislation that the people actually want about a third of the time. (Watch the Video it’s not partisan) The rest of the time they are . . . well, what the hell are they doing???

And for context, since these numbers have changed since my article was published back in 1997, the current salaries for our Congressional members are as follows:

Compensation for Senators, Representatives, Delegates, and the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico is $174,000 annually; the Speaker of the House’s salary is $223,500; and, House and Senate Majority and Minority Leaders and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate are all paid $193,400.  This doesn’t include their massive benefit packages, and they always have an ambulance standing by in case they get a paper cut or some other atrocious malady. (Sarcasm intended).

Adding to the context of 1995-1996 (my article was published in January of 1997) the country experienced two government shutdowns.  The first, 5-day shutdown, lasted from November 14 through November 19, 1995.  The second, 21-day shutdown, lasted from December 16, 1995, to January 6, 1996.  Also note, the second shutdown, the longest in US history, ultimately convinced the Republicans to accept Clinton’s budget.  President Clinton was the only President in the past 50 plus (maybe 181) years to have generated annual budget surpluses.  Keep in mind, annual surpluses or deficits are not the same as the total National Debt, but you can’t pay down the total debt unless you have annual surpluses. 

The National Debt has grown by $7.8 Trillion under the exiting administration (POTUS 45), that’s $7,800,000,000,000; an increase of 39.2 percent in just four years. The last time the nation had zero national debt was in 1835, under President Andrew Jackson.

That’s just the facts folks.

Anyway, if you are interested in how Congress spends its time move on to the next post for the Postmortem.

In Metta

Photo: The feature image is of the Capitol Building, with a a little photo editor play. I was out there peacefully protesting in 1995 and 1996 for safe nursing-patient staffing ratios. Nobody did anything crazy. 🙂

Rabbit Holes:

History of the United States Public Debt

The U.S. National Debt Reaches $0 for the First Time

Budget Surplus

In the 40-year period from FY 1965 to FY 2005, the Federal Government experienced a budget surplus in only five fiscal years. The government had a modest surplus of $3.2 billion in FY 1969. In fiscal years 1998 through 2001, the government had surpluses of $69.2, $125.5, $236.2, and $128.2 billion respectively.

Under Donald Trump’s Watch, the National Debt Increased by $7.8 Trillion

When Trump was inaugurated on January 20, 2017, the national debt stood at about $19.9 trillion. As he leaves office this month, the national debt has grown to about $27.7 trillion. That’s an increase of 39.2 percent.

It’s only fair to note that a large program of corporate welfare was initiated as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, which was largely ignored until it was impossible to contain. Also to be fair, the President pushed for and signed into law a $1.7 trillion dollar tax cut for his rich buddies. Raiding the Treasury of our tax dollars to make the wealthiest 2% of the population even more wealthy is not my idea of good government.

The Budget and Deficit Under Clinton

1995–1996 United States Federal Government Shutdowns

The Rise & Fall of the 104th [Congress]

8 thoughts on “Prelude to a Postmortem – Politics as Usual”

  1. Succinct and clear. Over here we can see it clearly, but we sense that those in it generally can’t see it. Leaves me wondering how any nation can sustain such debt, and the individual debt share is staggering.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sadly, since 2008 we’ve experienced incredible bailouts with public funds. Corporate welfare while the people get a pittance. They have instilled so many rabid capitalistic myths that many can’t see when they vote against their own interests. That’s how we ended up with Trump. Now, after raiding the Treasury once again, those same politicians will start screaming about fiscal responsibility

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I place much of the blame at the feet of the average citizen. We have become too lazy to really look into who we’re voting for or what our political parties are actually doing. We can certainly put media on both sides as a primary cause for that, but most people are simply too consumed with their own lives to put any critical thought into what is being said and done. Our Congress doesn’t work because people don’t care enough to really look at a candidate before casting their vote, so we get a bunch of people who said enough of the key catch phrases to get enough votes and when they get into their seats they just do whatever works best for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you partially. That is a significant factor. I would add that regardless of the intentions professed by candidates, or even sincerely held by the candidates, once in office their primary focus becomes securing their own wealth and power. The people become a secondary interest, or even a distraction.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed. I think term limits would be a good first step to combating this, but it would require further measures to truly make a dent. Term limits alone will just cause candidates to get crazy in office and grab as much as they can before they’re booted out. I’m sure someone out there has an awesome idea to use in conjunction that would actually have some effect.

        Liked by 1 person

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