I may not have an advanced degree in finance, mathematics, business, law or political science, but I do possess some common sense. And common sense says leaving your workplace for a long weekend is not the way to resolve any problems and get a task completed.
One of the first news stories I heard this morning was that Congress was in recess for a long weekend. The next story said the president was supposed to sign the order to make severe cuts to federal workers’ pay and federal programs.
What drives me crazy about these stories and all the interviews that the senators, representatives and the president have been making for the last few days, is the fact that they have known this was coming for a long time! And this isn’t the first, second or third time they have gotten themselves into a similar situation. Remember the “Fiscal Cliff” crisis of last year? Didn’t the last-minute resolution to that crisis contain these impending cuts? Weren’t these cuts supposed to be so severe that no one in Washington would let them happen – ever?
If any one of us did our jobs in this manner, we’d be fired. Some of the most common words and phrases in job descriptions include:
- Able to multi-task
- Must be proficient in Project Management
I know that the pundits will say if the American people are not happy with their representatives, senators and president they will be voted out of office during the next election and replaced with someone who will get the job done. Well, despite several “turnover” elections in the recent past, we keep seeing the same inefficient job performance.
Here are a few suggestions from a Midwestern Mom:
- Be there. Everyone who is involved in the resolution of this crisis must stay in Washington, DC and report for their job every day. No trips, junkets, “long weekends” or holiday breaks. Unless their presence is needed in meetings regarding action to keep our military in foreign lands safe, they must be in meetings to resolve this financial situation. And every meeting must be comprised of members of all sides or nothing of substance can get done.
- Just the fundamentals. One of the news stories this week was about how long it took one conclave to pick a new pope (three years) and how the people got so frustrated they locked the cardinals in the building and made the living conditions very poor to encourage them to complete the task at hand. Maybe we ought to do that with these DC-folks. Provide basic necessities like changes of clothes, a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, towels, and cots in the hallways. The three meals a day would follow the cost and nutrition guidelines established for school lunch programs. No alcohol.
- Rewards come when the job is done. Paychecks and perks would be put on hold until an agreement is reached, approved and signed. General government workers and interns would be paid their normal pay but the elected officials and their staff members don’t need to worry about such things since their fundamentals are being provided for them. If essential bills are due, representatives and senators can turn them over to a representative of the Treasury Department who would pay them and deduct that amount from their escrowed paycheck. I think the president’s essential bills are covered.
- Stay on topic. No earmarks may be added to any funding bills. We don’t want to give anyone an excuse not to vote on a bill to resolve this issue. Most earmarks are not asking for money for the topic at hand and are often the reason someone refuses to support a bill. [Personally, I’d like this one to stay on as a permanent practice. If a funding idea can’t stand on its own merit and get the support it needs to be funded independent of a bill that will be passed because it’s essential, that secondary bill should not be allowed to be attached to anything.]
- Do what’s right for the people. Don’t worry about retribution from your party or your funding sources. I can’t remember the last time I heard a politician running for office say in a speech that he or she wants to go to Washington to climb the political ladder and make lots of money from special interest groups. They all say they want to do what’s right. They all claim to want to fix things in Washington for the benefit of the people. So, prove it. Don’t worry about some paper you signed to never raise taxes – that’s unrealistic since the price of everything goes up over time. Don’t worry about whether the leaders of your party will give you plum assignments as a result of your vote. Look at the facts and make the hard decisions. Compromise. Find consensus. If no one is completely happy with the end result but we all can live with it because it is the best thing to do, then everyone has given and gotten to achieve the result.
There are probably several other items that could be added to this list, but I think it’s a good start. Some may read this and agree with all of it…but I’d be unrealistic to believe that. Some will think these suggestions are too draconian. Others will think they are too simplistic. Still others will say I just don’t “get it” and I shouldn’t comment on what I don’t understand.
The truth is that I don’t think it’s that complicated. Elected officials have a job to do. It’s not an easy one; if it was an easy job we’d all want to do it. When you look at these jobs realistically, you realize that they are jobs where not only are you disliked by large numbers of people, you are often actually attacked in one way or another by large numbers of people, most of whom you’ve never met. When you become an elected official, you must accept this fact: You will NEVER make everyone happy.
But isn’t that true about anything in life? We all have to make hard decisions at some point. As a parent, I have to say, “No” more often than my kids want to hear it. I don’t like it when my kids aren’t happy with me or when they say I’m being mean and they hate me, but, as a parent, I have to make the decisions I believe are right and for the good of my kids based on the facts I have at hand. Elected representatives have to be more like parents who make the tough calls. If a parent doesn’t make the tough call or favors one child over another, things will get ugly fast.
Mr. President, Congressional Representatives, Senators – don’t let things get ugly. Please, do your job. This issue has been on your To Do list for far too long. Do the hard work you were elected to do by people you are supposed to be serving.