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This week – Due to the intense work by the committees in Congress this week, the House floor is actually quite quiet. The House Appropriations Committee is expected to mark up four separate bills. These are the Interior, Legislative Branch, Agriculture and Treasury, Postal. The bills themselves should be on the House floor during the next two weeks. In addition, over a dozen House committees are working on the development of the new Homeland Security Agency. House Leadership would like to have a final bill passed by the August recess, which begins July 29th. That means they have only three short weeks to create the outlines of the biggest government change in decades.
Despite not having a budget and being far behind on appropriations bill the Senate this week will take up an accounting reform legislation bill. I am sure that the fact that Daschle is taking up this bill during the week of the WorldCom hearings, despite having such legislative gridlock, is purely coincidental. The Senate is also expected to finally vote on the long awaited Yucca Mountain resolution determining whether or not nuclear waste will be stored at one facility in Nevada.
In Depth – A Bummed Out Conservative
Why are conservatives so afraid to stand up and fight? When I ask Congressional staff or members why they won’t fight for what they believe in I am told that things would be different if it was me that had to stand up in front of hundreds of my constituents and explain why it isn’t good for America to provide carte blanche access to every drug possible to every senior citizen. Or I guess it might be difficult to put your foot down on spending bills and tell your local officials back home that you won’t support any pork barrel spending. But isn’t that why members of Congress make over $140,000 a year? They should be able to make these tough decisions.
Let’s be honest, the liberals believe in one thing. Spending our money. They think that taking money from your pocket and giving it to someone else can solve any problem that any person has in America. A mother can’t find day care? Set up a program and give them money. A man loses his job, put him into a government program so he can collect government money. That is their answer to everything – and they are proud of it. They tout this answer as widely and broadly as they can. All their strategy memos during Congressional retreats tell them to talk about how much more money they would be spending on education, health care, homelessness, etc. if they were in charge. They plan to take over the House of Representatives based solely on the fact that the special interests they cater to will get more money.
And where are the conservatives? We are in hiding. After proudly touting our credentials from 1995 to about 1997 – we got slapped back due our ‘incendiary rhetoric.’ I guess fighting for less government doesn’t poll well. We then tried to outdo the liberals on issues such as education and labor but we can’t win a spending war, so we ended up looking stupid. Now, conservatives whisper the words personal responsibility and fiscal accountability and then vote in billions of dollars in more government programs. What does it matter if you have to hold your nose when you vote as long as you get re-elected?
The prescription drug bill that just passed will cost the American taxpayers over $350 billion over the next ten years. It did absolutely NOTHING to reform the dying Medicare system and in fact ushered it quicker into the graveyard. The recent farm bill fiasco that brings a whole new meaning to the word welfare passed with over 150 Republican votes - many of these conservative votes. Congress is currently debating a Republican sponsored bill, supported by President Bush which would directly insert government into the heretofore private market of insurance – leaving the American taxpayer on the hook for billions if not trillions of liability! Conservative staff are disheartened and disinterested – they are currently debating one of the largest re-organizations of the federal government in generation and their biggest concern is whether they will be able to get home for Christmas vacation!
At what point will conservative believe again what they preach or espouse what they believe? The problems are too widespread to catalogue in a brief article. There are not enough checks and balances from the grassroots. There are not enough rewards in the system for doing what is right. The development of our system lends itself to financial abuse. No one gives a hoot anymore, etc. All of these reasons play into the decline of the application of conservative values to common day political debates. The Right flank that so aptly took on the Democrat Left in the early 1990’s and engineered the Republican take over of the House of Representatives has drifted into the Moderate flank. Before conservatives can even begin to fight to regain our principles in the debate, we need to grow this diminishing minority.