Monday, 19 August 2013 19:53

Obama, US Congress do nothing as political divide widens

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capitol-dcDuring the month of August, Congress takes its annual vacation, and this year is no different.  Not much has changed in a do nothing political climate that has become the norm for Washington and its politics.  Important issues remain unresolved.  


The great debate over immigration that was promised the American people has vanished from the headlines and has yet to take place.  Immigration legislation that passed the U.S. Senate sits languishing in the House of Representatives.  Republicans have promised alternative legislation, but no such legislation has come forward.

Tax reform continues to be discussed on the talk shows, but no action has taken place.  To democrats reform is higher taxes on the rich.  To republicans it is lower taxes that end up benefiting mostly the rich because they are, for all practical purposes, the only ones left paying taxes in any great numbers.  

And, of course, the big elephant in the room remains Obama Care, and it will continue to be so for a long time to come.  Republicans say they are working on a plan to repeal Obama Care yet preserve health care reform, but no plan has come forward yet.  It has been three and a half years since Obama Care was approved by Congress and signed by the President.  In a world of all talk and no action, what's the rush to fix it?  

Doing little or nothing has become the ordinary course of business for Washington.  Both sides of the political aisle remain entrenched in their narrow political views, afraid to do anything controversial that might rattle their respective political bases.  No real work on important legislation to move the nation forward.  Instead, it is, "My way or the highway."

In all fairness President Obama did get something done by giving Congressional staff members a break on Obama Care, a break that working people are not guaranteed.  The bureaucrats in Washington at the urging of the President have decided that staffers can continue to receive a subsidy of 75% of the premium payable for health insurance coverage under Obama Care.  Not a bad deal since the legislation for Obama Care made no such provision.  And who pays the subsidy?  Taxpayers do.

Now don't get me wrong.  Many employers pay a portion or all of their employees’ health insurance costs.  And that may be fine for Washington staffers too.  But in government there must a law that allows such a payment. According to media reports, there is no such law.  This is what is wrong.

Of course, you must remember that all of this is jockeying for the midterm elections in November 2014.  Democrats want to hold on to the Senate and take back control of the House of Representatives.  Republicans want to keep control of the house and take control of the Senate. It is politics pure and simple.

Next year as they head to the polls, voters will be looking at the job performances of their elected members of congress.  National security and the economy will remain among the top issues.   

The world is more dangerous today than ever before. NSA snooping on U.S. citizens remains a major concern for most Americans.  Edward Snowden remains a thorn in the side of the American intelligence community.  U.S. and Russian relations are at rock bottom.  Syria's civil war continues as more lives are lost.  The uprising in Egypt has emerged as a major unsettling event in the Middle East.   The war in Afghanistan and Pakistan continues as Americans have been promised that our brave troops are coming home soon.

At home the economy is like a roller coaster.  It seems that in the last few years prices have risen significantly.  Not just prices for the necessities of life but prices for everything.  The cost of groceries and the cost of a restaurant meal for the family have skyrocketed in the last few years.  The price of fuel bounces around like a rubber ball and seems to be more likely to head up than down.  The government tells us we have little inflation, but the prices consumers pay tell a different story.

As members of Congress return to work from their vacations, let's hope that enough members have heard the discontent from the voters back home so that they will actually get to work and move the nation forward.  There is much work to be done, and the work keeps mounting.


Lawrence Chehardy

For thirty-four years Lawrence Chehardy served as Assessor of Jefferson Parish. He has been the leading authority on Louisiana’s property tax laws. In addition to his political commentary and public speaking engagements, Lawrence Chehardy is a founding member of the Chehardy, Sherman, Ellis, Murray, Recile, Griffith, Stakelum & Hayes Law Firm and serves as its managing partner.

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