Saturday, May 11, 2013

One Deficit You Can Believe In

While virtually all U.S. politicians excel at hypocrisy, a clutch of right-wing Republicans lead the league.

They're at it again right now, manufacturing another phony "-gate"  over the  Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate compound in Benghazi, Libya.  Four people were killed, including  U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

The point of the GOP slumgullion in Congress is to gain political points among the unsavvy in the electorate and divert attention from important issues where even some of the unsavvy realize that Republicans are on the wrong side.  Background checks for gun purchases, for example.

One irony is that most of the loudest noisemakers about Benghazi voted against increasing funds for embassy security as part of their support for another GOP bogeyman, the so-called "deficit crisis."

But the ultimate hypocrisy is that the bellyachers of today were absolute sphynxes when, during the Bush administration, 98 persons including four members of the diplomatic corps were killed in attacks on 13 American consulates or embassies. What's sauce for the goose today obviously wasn't sauce for the gander yesterday.

A posse of Diogeneses would find it difficult today to put the finger on a single member of Congress who is not a hypocrite, a liar, a cheat, a crook, a dissembler, a kakistocrat or a coward.  They'd find plenty who are all of the above.

Congress, a legislature, is supposed to legislate, to pass laws.  The 112th Congress passed only 90 bills into law, the fewest in more than 60 years.  The so-called "do-nothing" Congress of 1947-48 did better than that.  The current batch of geniuses, the 113th, has so far passed only nine bills into law. Seven of them originated in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. None of the seven will appreciably improve the lives of  the Common Man.

Of the two laws that originated in the Senate, one, the Violence Against Women Act, is a landmark victory to protect the rights and human dignity of more than half the population.  Even amid the consensus on this legislation, however, Congress was not absent the taint of hypocrisy.  Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), for example, giddily joined the photo op to applaud Preident Obama when he signed the thing into law.  But he voted against it in the Senate. This is the Janus tactic, long popular in Washington, whereby a pol shows the general public one face but votes quite another way to please the special interests that own him.  President Obama is the ranking master of the tactic.

The other new law that originated in the Senate has less redeeming virtue.  It modified the so-called STOCK Act, a work of the 112th Congress, loudly applauded by Congress and the President as an act to "end the deficit of trust" between Washington and the rest of the country. It was specifically intended to end insider trading by members of Congress based on information to which they were privy only because they were in Congress.  It also required thousands of high government officials to post their stock holdings online.  The new law, passed not in the glare of mass media approval but in stealth just before adjournment for a holiday back home, nullified the latter provision.  More hypocrisy.

"Deficit of trust" indeed.  It's the only believable "deficit" in all of the District of Columbia, and it's grown too enormous to calculate.

* * *


The latest Janus tactic: House Republicans have passed and sent to the Senate the "Working Families Flexibility Act.” It gives business owners the flexibility of not paying hourly workers a higher wage for overtime work.