Dear Pelosi/Reid Congress,
In the words of the monotonously repetitive holiday song, I want to wish you a merry Christmas. What a distinguished record you have amassed:
--The stimulus, which added, oh, about $1 trillion to the deficit and did not, as heralded, either end the recession or drive down unemployment.
--ObamaCare, which, if it ever takes full effect, will impersonalize and socialize medicine along the lines of the European model and create government medicine with the regulatory hammer of the Internal Revenue Service and all the efficiencies of the Postal Service. In addition, ObamaCare will (1) lengthen wait times, (2) ration care, (3) put the federales in the business of making end-of-life decisions (i.e., determining when to pull the plug), (4) diminish care quality, (5) push physicians out of medicine and discourage the young from entering, (6) throttle research and medical innovation, (7) send costs soaring and (8) not cover every American despite the facially unconstitutional "individual mandate."
(And next week, I may tell you how offensive and wrong ObamaCare truly is -- how grotesquely malignant a national mistake.)
FOR ALL that, and for the many lurid legislative obscenities in your post-election "lame-duck" session, I want to wish you a merry Christmas....
--For extending the Bush tax cuts after huffing and puffing and insisting, along with the president, you never would. (Obama's tergiversation required him to bring in Bill Clinton to testify at a bizarre press conference, "I would have done what the president has done.") This wasn't the permanent extension it should have been, but a good thing nevertheless.
--For your inability to approve a budget for the fiscal year that began October 1, thereby failing in perhaps the principal obligation of every Congress. The omnibus $1.27 trillion spending bill -- running to 1,934 pages few senators had read -- containing 6,630 earmarks (totaling $8.1 billion) most senators and the president disavowed liking. It nonetheless contained subsidies for (e.g.) ethanol; subsidies, of course, being earmarks by a different name. In this particular instance, given the November 2 election results, your failure may ironically prove to be, along with your extension of the Bush tax cuts, your principal lame-duck achievement.
--For your late-hour effort to ram through the "Dream Act" -- an effort thankfully thwarted. This abomination would have granted citizenship to the children of illegals who (a) enlisted in the military (a commendable provision) or (b) simply went to college -- not even close to the equivalent of military service as an avenue to citizenship.
FURTHER, I want to wish you a merry Christmas....
--For your similarly late-hour effort to ram through an omnibus "lands bill," wherein you rolled about 100 alleged environmental measures into a single package that, if successful, would have constituted one of the most gargantuan, most intrusive federal grabs of private land and private property in the nation's history.
--For the Senate's dismal ratification of the New Start arms-control treaty with Russia. You and the president permitted little deliberation and no amendments so as not to offend the Russians -- the same argument (giving them no offense) proffered for passing the treaty now. New Start is a treaty with a country vastly diminished on the world stage. At the same time, it's a treaty that may hamper our ability to modernize our nuclear inventory and defend ourselves against missile attacks by renegade nuclearized countries such as North Korea, Myanmar, possibly Pakistan, possibly Venezuela, and Iran. And finally,
--For your repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, thus inviting openly practicing homosexuals to serve in the military. Never mind the poll showing across the military a seeming ambivalence (except in the combat forces). Never mind the similar blandishments by most of the military's top brass (except in the Marines). There can be little denying that the injection of romance and sexual tension into combat circumstances cannot possibly enhance readiness and combat performance. Period.
In your lame-duck session, wherein you implied strongly for making it history's last, you should have extended the Bush tax cuts, passed a continuing spending resolution to prevent government shut-down -- and gone home. Instead, facing considerable diminution of the congressional left come January, the 111th Congress provided ample evidence as to why popular approval of Congress has descended from a recent high of 84 percent (in 2002) to a lowest-ever 13 percent.
As lame-duckers, you did your utmost to make long-term legislative mischief and, perhaps irremediably, to undermine our national security. For all that, I want to wish you a merry Christmas -- from the bottom of my heart.
Pulling the plug, so you can fast circle the drain and disappear, has taken far too long.
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.
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