Friday, January 7, 2011

Less than one week in, GOP wastes your time, tax dollars

It's been less than one week since they assumed power of the House of Representatives, but Republican lawmakers in Washington are already wasting your time -- and your tax dollars as well.

First was the reading of the U.S. Constitution aloud among the members of the House. Though it included Democrats as well, the insistence by the GOP that the document be read actually cost taxpayers more than $1 million. The largely symbolic display of the scope and limits of our government was meant to educate the masses on what exactly is in our Constitution, though it may have been conservative lawmakers who were surprised when they read not once but but twice the U.S. government's right and duty to "promote" and "provide for" the "general welfare" of the citizenry.

That part leads to the second waste of time and resources that Republicans are pushing. With many members of the GOP clamoring over whether it is Constitutional or not, House Republicans are planning to vote on a repeal of health insurance reform that passed last year. The bill to repeal is not only a waste of time for this week -- with Democrats in control of the Senate, it will undoubtedly fail to reach the president's desk, who would veto it anyway -- but it would also be a waste of taxpayer dollars in the long run.

The Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan organization charged with weighing the costs of every bill that reaches either house of Congress, cites that repealing the health bill would add more than $140 billion to our budget deficit. Republicans, in urging the repeal of health insurance reform, would be going against their mantra of lowering deficits, all in the name of increasing profits for private sector insurance companies (not to mention reinstating the practice of denying children coverage based on their "pre-existing conditions"). The end result? In short, more deficits created and less Americans insured.

Finally, there's the third example of Republican mismanagement, of their showing the American people that they're not too serious when it comes to governing. Two House members, one of them the House Republican campaign chair, skipped the swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday in order to attend a campaign fundraising event. The two Congressmen held their hands up towards a television monitor, by their accounts, believing that they were taking the oath of office in a proper way. They then took part in half a dozen votes within Congress, and ironically the reading of the Constitution (though the two weren't yet properly sworn in).

The fix to this is easy, and the damage done isn't as severe as some are making it out to be. However, the disrespect of the office -- the deliberate absence of a time-honored tradition (to raise campaign cash, no less) -- is unbecoming of members of any political party. That one of those absent was a high-ranking member within the Republican Party is also troubling -- he should have known better, should have shown the same respect for the office that 433 of his colleagues showed. (Could you imagine the uproar if a Democrat had made this mistake?)

The repeal of health reform (a move that would cost the country hundreds of billions if passed), the unnecessary reading of the Constitution (a document that members should have already understood before running for office), and the blatant disrespect of elected office showcases just how hypocritical and arrogant the new GOP-controlled House of Representatives really is. The Republican Party is getting off to a rough start in this new legislative session. If they hope to retain power, they will need to change their ways drastically. Sadly, I fear America will suffer for the mistakes and missteps of the GOP, this week and in the months to come.

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