We’ve been writing lately about how the decisions made in congress have very real consequences and how they are often made with little sense of reality.
Today marks the six month anniversary of Hurricane Sandy’s landfall on the Jersey shore. As we viewed the images this morning on our television screen we could not help but think about how horrible that time must have been for the millions of residents that suffered Sandy’s wrath. Surely things were better now.
Only then did we realize that the video we were watching was not taken six months ago…it was taken over this past weekend. As the critical summer tourist season draws near, much of the Jersey shore still looks like a war zone. Tens of thousands of people are still homeless; businesses are still shuttered.
We were reminded of the mess that congress made over the authorization of $53 billion in relief aid to the area. You may recall that congress had essentially just voted to raise taxes on individuals making over $400,000. Having recently enacted this politically charged piece of legislation Speaker Boehner did not want his members to face another vote authorizing more spending. So he broke his promise to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and put off the relief aid vote until after congress returned from a two week recess.
Christie was apoplectic. Congress was unmoved.
It took ninety days of political infighting for congress to pass the Hurricane Sandy relief aid. Ninety more days have passed…the funds have yet to reach the Jersey Shore.
Governor Christie understood what congress did not…every day that Washington delayed on the front end meant even longer delays on the back end. Imagine how much closer to normalcy New Jersey residents might be today had relief aid been pouring in from the very beginning.
But Congress doesn’t always make decisions in a political vacuum…especially when it serves their own interests.
Take the recent furlough of 47,000 air traffic controllers. Flights delayed…tens of thousands of people waiting in long line to get through security. Members of congress about to join those long lines as they s prepare to go into their spring recess.
Is it just a coincidence that in a matter of minutes congress was able to pass a bi-partisan funding bill that returned the controllers to work and eliminated the long delays?
How about the bill on insider trading!
You may recall; several months ago “60 Minutes” did an expose’ showing that members of congress were legally allowed to trade on insider information which they became aware of in the course of executing the congressional duties.
The public was outraged. A common citizen would face some serious jail time for doing the same thing. Yet our lawmakers were making millions on this convenient loophole
Congress reacted to the scandal immediately. Just days after the story aired congress passed a bill making it illegal for members to trade on inside information made known to them while performing their duties.
Last night 60 Minutes reported that congress had quietly overturned most of the key components of that insider trading bill.
It takes Washington over six months to pass legislation to help millions of citizens injured by the second most costly storm in our history.
Yet when it comes to awarding themselves “perks” or eliminating any chance of being inconvenienced… it only takes them a matter of minutes to get the job done.