Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011 | 2 a.m.
A year ago, voters were frustrated with the failure of Washington to provide answers to the nation’s economic woes, and they turned over control of the House of Representatives to the Republicans.
There was a mandate: Voters wanted to see action. They wanted politicians in Washington to work together and push the economy forward.
Instead, the political situation grew worse as Washington has been locked in a bitter partisanship driven by the Republican-led House of Representatives. Republican leaders twisted the narrative of the election, saying the voters gave them a mandate to pursue their narrow ideology, including tax cuts for the rich, subsidies for major corporations and massive cuts to government. They have only extended the nation’s problems by obstructing needed legislation, launching partisan investigations to make the White House look bad and working diligently toward their expressed intent of defeating President Barack Obama in the election next year. In the meantime, the country continues to be plagued by high unemployment, a huge volume of foreclosures and a lackluster economy.
America needs help, and it needs bold action from its leaders. However, political observers don’t expect much. The focus in Washington has turned toward the election, which is now a year away. The battle lines have been clearly drawn, and it appears that many politicians are settling into campaign mode. Some politicians seem willing to push off addressing the nation’s problems until after the election. It’s as if they hope the voters will break the partisan stalemate in Congress by turning control over to one party.
The nation can’t wait another year before Congress acts. Too many people are still hurting economically, and there is significant work to be done before next November.
The issue rests in the hands of the Republican leaders in Congress. The president repeatedly offered to work with Republicans and negotiate, but they have refused to do so.
Instead, Republicans have blamed the president and the Democrats for the nation’s problems and have tried to minimize their role, saying they “only” control “one-half of one-third” of the federal government. That is disingenuous. Republicans hold one-half of Congress, and that is a powerful position. The president can’t accomplish much of his agenda without the support of both the Senate and the House. Thus, the Republicans in the House essentially can veto the budget, taxes and many important policy issues.
So what do they plan to do in that position?
They can play politics for the next year and continue to try to make the president look bad, or they can work with the president and try to make something happen for America. Whatever they do, they can’t be allowed to minimize their responsibility. People sent them to Washington to help get the nation back on track, and that hasn’t happened.
The next year will be critical for the country as the voters prepare to choose a president and members of Congress. However, the election can’t be used as an excuse for inaction in Washington.
As politicians campaign, we hope they will offer specific proposal on how they would address the economy, as well as how they plan to work with the opposing party. And we’d like to know how they plan to do that now, not in a year from now.
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