A Big Win for “Politics as Usual”

With the 2nd week of February now under our belt and a $787 bill emergency spending / stimulus bill now passed by both houses of congress and on its way to the President’s desk for signing into law, one thing became very clear during the past week…the game of “politics as usual” has won once again. I should be clear that the winner was non-partisan, because the game of “politics as usual” does not discriminate between Republicans or Democrats.

So, how and why did “politics as usual” win yet again?

How: The bill which is 1,073 pages long was released to members of congress in physical print format only (so much for being green) and not offered electronically. Why: Legislators will oftentimes use computer programs to automatically search for certain words that might raise red flags. This is deliberately done to make it more difficult for the opposition to find measure that they object to. This is a favorite technique to mask transparency and slide things in under the radar.

How: The bill contains lots of pork. For a bill that is supposed to “stimulate” our economy and put American’s back to work, it is peppered with dozens of pet projects, including over $30 million for wetlands conservation in the San Francisco bay area, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), home district. I am not arguing that we should not preserve wetlands, but that is not the purpose of this bill. Why: Politicians are addicted to pork…because it appeases the special interest groups that got them elected in the first place…and making it easier to get re-elected.

How: President Obama made a campaign promise to put every single bill online for the American public to view for no less than 5 days prior to signing anything into law…this hasn’t happened. Why: The more information you withhold from others, the more power you hold. Furthermore, after the bill is inspected with a fine tooth comb, invariably their will be more questions and objections…not something Mr. Obama wants, he just wants to get the bill passed.

How: After the bill’s passage, Democratic leaders held a press conference back slapping one another for “looking out for the American people” while blaming Republicans for giving the American people the cold shoulder once again. Why: Political rule #1 – take all the credit when things succeed, blame the other side when things fail.

To be fair, Republicans have played the same games years before. In fact, former House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX – no longer in congress) practically invented these games. The democrats screamed and moaned about how awful it was then…now they are the majority and playing the same games too.

Barack “Change” Obama was elected by the American people with a mandate to change Washington and turn the page on the same old tired political tactics of yesterday. It looks like he has his work cut out for him.