Monday, December 18, 2017

Who Congress really serves

“Does Washington work for all of us or just for those at the top?”

That’s the closing question posed by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in their NY Times op-ed Who Is Congress Really Serving?

I think our worst suspicions will be confirmed this week when Congress passes the piece of putrefaction, the tax cut for corporations and the uber-rich. The two Senators argue that Congress could be doing a lot of things for the nation as a whole before getting anywhere near to a bill that is known to lay additional debt, $1.5 trillion, on future Americans.

Over the past year, Republicans have made their priorities clear. Their effort to repeal Obamacare would have left tens of millions of people without health insurance. Now Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, wants to ram through an enormous tax giveaway to the wealthy before seating Doug Jones, Alabama’s newly elected Democratic senator.

The Republican agenda on health care and taxes may be popular with wealthy campaign donors, but it is widely disliked by the American people. It’s no wonder why. Despite a booming stock market and record corporate profits, workers in this country are being squeezed by flat wages, soaring household expenses and declining savings. They want Washington to start working for them and to spend tax dollars investing in our future — not bankrupting it.

With a government funding deadline looming on Friday, congressional Republicans face a choice. Will they spend this week just trying to deliver partisan tax breaks for the rich? Or will they work with Democrats to pass a budget that supports working people?

Right now Congress’s to-do list is long. Before we even get to the budget, we must take care of several urgent, overdue responsibilities that Republicans have ignored. We must fulfill our promise to 800,000 Dreamers — aspiring young Americans who will lose their legal immigration status if we don’t act. We also need to renew expired funding for community health centers and the Children’s Health Insurance Program so that tens of millions of families and nine million children don’t lose access to affordable health care.

At a time when the American economy is rigged in favor of the rich and giant corporations, the coming federal funding bill is a chance to show that our country still respects hard work. We recognize that we cannot do everything we’d like to do before the end of the year, but there is room in the budget to take real, immediate steps in this direction — by easing household costs for working parents and students, by protecting workers’ pensions and Social Security, and by improving access to health care for veterans and for people who need mental health services.

Check out the Warren/Sanders op-ed for a detailed list of what they would like Congress to do in time for Christmas.

Your Scriber, ever the pessimist, thinks that Scrooge walks the halls of Congress. This spirit was anticipated by Charles Dickens in his morality tale, A Christmas Carol. In my update, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plays the role of Scrooge. Scriber has edited the passage to fit the present America. The Scrooge/McConnell quotes are in italics.

Senators Warren and Sanders pay a visit to McConnell …
“At this festive season of the year, Mr McConnell, … it is more than usually desirable that Congress should make some legislative provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”
“Are there no prisons?”
“Plenty of private prisons…”
“And the fast food restaurants.” demanded McConnell. “Are they still in operation?”
“Both very busy, sir…”
“Those who are badly off must go there to work for less than a livable wage.”
“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
“If they would rather die,” said McConnell, “they had better do it, after paying their taxes so that the rich can grow richer.”

Scriber’s Usually Unreliable Sources report hearing Senate Republicans wish America a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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