Every four years, staffers from inside the beltway infiltrate the region that has decided every political election since the Civil War. They knock on doors and call during dinner to make sure people in “flyover states” vote for their candidate. The slogan slung around is, in some form or another, “People Before Politics.” However, once the elected Representatives return to Washington, the narrative quickly turns back to party politics, to the detriment those Americans who trusted their Representative would put them first.
This week will probably be the week where political junkies hit a fever pitch and most others tune out. Unquestionably, public trust is of the utmost importance for any elected office holder, and any investigation and how it is handled should not be dismissed. But the manner of a firing, the appropriateness of sharing classified information, or whatever the next event that spurs round-the-clock hysteria, does not change the fact that we have $20 trillion in debt, a failing health care system, and a broken tax code.
Americans want to know what their representatives are doing to fix the real problems they sent them to address in Washington, and for the past four months, it has not been much. The House sent one major reform bill to the Senate, health care repeal and replace, but the Senate is scrapping it and starting over. The Senate confirmed a Supreme Court Justice, along party lines, and the President has signed a series of executive orders between several blunders.
100 days may not be enough time to fix every problem in our country, but since the House has less than 50 session days left this year, it may be time to get the ball rolling.
The public has been promised a plethora of reforms this year, ones that will actually make the lives of many Americans better, but the public is turning bearish on those reforms every day. Real issues like entitlement, health care, and tax reform continually take a backseat in Washington due to party politics. While there are important issues the American people should know about, and holding the Administration accountable is critical, Congress must maintain its focus on making America a better place for all its citizens.
Recently in a Congressional hearing, lawmakers were given a clear warning about our fiscal condition that needs to be addressed immediately. The Comptroller General of the United States, Gene Dodaro, said in the hearing, “I am worried about the overall fiscal health of the federal government. The federal government is on a long-term unsustainable fiscal path.” It is hard to believe this quote, coming from the top accountant in the United States government, did not get its own 24 hour news cycle.
Additionally, the Congressional Research Service, Congress’s independent research arm, has expressed the potential consequences of our current fiscal situation, “a growing Federal debt could place a high burden on future generations and hinder economic growth. Rapid growth of Federal debt could also increase the probability of a financial crisis or fears of a sovereign default.”
While Russian interference and leaks within the White House are important, chances are, they will not affect an individual American like a financial crisis would. In fact, just a few short years ago we saw the devastating effects of the collapse of our financial system. The collapse of our country’s finances would be astronomically worse.
As parents have been teaching for many generations, two wrongs do not make a right. Nor do stumbles by the Administration, real or perceived, mean that our elected officials can no longer address the major policy issues facing our country. Continued inaction on policy issues should have constituents worried that their Members of Congress are brushing off the current state of Washington’s finances to concentrate on political drama. Putting people before politics has been politicians' go-to slogan for decades, it is time they came through on that promise.
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Adam joined Restore Accountability in 2016 and manages the Foundation's day to day creative operations. Previously, he spent two years on Capitol Hill working for Senator Tom Coburn and Senator Jeff Flake...FULL BIO