By Russ Pankonin, The Imperial Republican Co-Publisher
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. as both a journalist and tourist. And each time I came home, I became more convinced that our lawmakers in D.C. think the world revolves around them.
As I look back to when I turned 18 and was able to exercise my vote, I can’t remember a time when our government seemed more dysfunctional and divided.
I remember registering as a Republican after coming from a household where both parents were Democrats, not to mention in-laws who were dyed-in-the-wool Democrats.
While I remain a registered Republican, I’ve grown increasingly weary of the bickering and badgering, not only by the Republicans but the Democrats as well. As a result, I’ve moved away from claiming any party affiliation—a sort of independent.
When President Barack Obama was elected, I was not among those who believed the world had come to an end as we knew it.
While I was still dubious of what he and the Democratic Party claimed they could bring to the nation, I decided to sit back and see what would happen.
First, we experience near financial collapse soon after Obama takes office. There’s enough blame to go around for both parties on who was responsible for the collapse.
Then came the stimulus plan and bailout of the banking, insurance and auto industries—still, enough blame to go around.
I took a wait-and-see attitude on the stimulus and bailout package as well, but I believed it was something that had to be done to get this country back on the right track. The jury’s still out on that one.
One thing we do know is that the fat cats on Wall Street who created the financial debacle are as well off or better off than when the whole problem began. Are you? I doubt it!
Then comes the health care debate. Again, I am willing to give it a chance to see if it can work. If it can lower the health care costs for both my family, my employees and millions of small business owners, than I will be a believer.
Talk is cheap and if left to the Republicans, health care reform of any kind will never happen if this current bill goes down.
The whole process in the Senate Bill came down to whether Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson (D) would give his party the final vote needed to move the bill forward over opposition by the Republicans.
Frankly, I respect Sen. Nelson for the courageous stand he took on the health care issue and moving it forward for further consideration. While a strong constituency felt he should vote against the bill, he took a stand that he felt was best for our country. Sometimes as an elected official, you’re forced to take stands that aren’t popular but are what you believe is best for the overall good.
Unfortunately, it was business and politics as usual behind closed doors in Washington. To get Nelson’s vote, his colleagues gave Nebraska a sweetheart deal worth millions to defray expanding Medicare costs to the state.
For once, it was Nebraska that came away with the pork! But has the state and Nelson ever caught the heat for it. Supposedly, Florida came away with a deal worth billions to help cover the retireds that make up a big percentage of their state. Who’s crying foul on that one?
Candidate Obama pledged that if he was elected president, plenty of sunshine would fall on the health care reform process, and it would be open for all the nation to see.
However, President Obama has already broken that pledge as Democrats meet behind closed doors to formulate the House and Senate versions of health care reform into a bill both can live with. The question is whether it will be one we can live with.
So much for change and transparency in government.
Perhaps it’s time to clean house of all the rascals on both sides of the aisle and send a bunch of new Mr. Smiths back to Washington.