If you think Santa Claus came early this year by delivering liberal majorities in the House and Senate, you had better check your stocking again. Liberals and the political parties will continue to play us like the kid who asked Santa for a pony, but woke up Christmas morning to find a big box of horse manure.
At first blush, Congressman Charlie Rangel's (D-NY) comments last week about Mississippi are merely the latest exposé of Northeast limousine liberal elitism, similar to Senator John Kerry's (D-MA) remarks before the election disparaging our brave military personnel. Rangel was quoted in the New York Times saying, "Mississippi gets more than their fair share back in federal money, but who the hell wants to live in Mississippi?"
Rangel's quote not only describes many liberals' contemptuous view of Middle America, but also illustrates how liberals, regardless of party affiliation, view the role of federal government. Peel back Rangel's rhetorical onion further, and you can see the degenerative influence of the political parties on Congress' ability to solve our most serious fiscal crises.
The coming Senate Democratic majority means that Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) will likely become the next chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Sen. Byrd has sat on the Appropriations Committee since 1959. Over 30 federal projects in Sen. Byrd’s home state bear his name. During a March 15, 2001 speech on the Senate floor, Byrd stated, "One man's pork is another man's job. Pork has been good investment in West Virginia. You can look around and see what I've done."
Not that anyone will notice much change between Byrd and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), the current Senate Appropriations chairman. Stevens' home state of Alaska leads the nation in receipt of taxpayer dollars for earmarked pork projects. Alaskans per capita receive more than $611 of our money for earmarked appropriations. The national average is $19 per capita.
In the House, Transportation Committee chairman Rep. Don Young (R-AK) doesn't seem too upset about ceding the majority to the Democrats. Young, architect of the bill to fund the infamous Bridge to Nowhere, will likely hand his golden gavel to Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN). According to the Anchorage Daily News, Young "changed the way funds were allocated to increase the amount controlled by minority Democrats to 45 percent." Young, who will remain on the committee as ranking minority member, claims Oberstar told him, "I'll treat you as good as you treated me, and that was great." Bipartisanship – it's a beautiful thing.
The liberals' goal is not to shrink the growth of government, rein in Social Security and Medicare entitlement spending, tax us less or allow Americans to pursue their own economic freedom. Rather, their clear objective is redistribution of tax receipts to potential voters in the form of tax credits, earmark - spending projects and social engineering programs.
The two major political parties are attempting to convince voters that ideology and policy prescriptions are no longer relevant. Election contests are no longer a forum to discuss individual candidates' solutions to the big issues of the day. Instead, candidates receive their talking points from the party leaders, reducing the election and public policy process to little more than a popularity contest. We the voters are rendered tailgaters in the parking lot, waving our red or blue flags in support of our favorite team.
It is little wonder policy discourse was noticeably absent throughout the 2006 election season. The Democratic strategy was to make the House and Senate elections a national referendum on President Bush and his oversight of the war in Iraq. Republicans played right into the Democrats' hands. Few Republican candidates discussed their plans to restructure Social Security, fight the global war on Islamic terrorism, simplify the tax code or cut federal spending. Instead, the Republican strategy was to scare their base to the voting booth with the threat of a "Speaker Pelosi." Hope and optimism, not fear, motivate and inspire voters.
We arrived at this bipartisan assault on common sense because most members of the House and Senate are in permanent campaign mode. Save a handful of principled conservatives in both chambers, liberals in both parties long ago abandoned their oath to support and defend the Constitution.
Government cannot and will not solve our problems or the problems Congress itself created. Despite the countless platitudes toward bipartisanship, the hard work of solving the hard problems will remain in two years for a new president and a new Congress.
Congressman Rangel's comments should offend not just Mississippians, but any American concerned about the future of a political system that places pork over fiscal discipline and party over policy.
Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.
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