Monday, October 19, 2009

The Daily Strike-10/19/09-Why The United States Senate is Bad Part 804

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. Time for a good old fashioned Monday diatribe.

THE SENATE: If it weren't for the United States Senate, we would have already passed a Cap and Trade bill, a comprehensive education measure, a food safety bill and all of the 2010 spending measures. Unfortunately, our founding fathers decided that the people's will couldn't be trusted, and left the fate of our country in the hands of a fundamentally undemocratic institution. Today, I read an article that proved to be a great example of why the Senate is so bad. The House earlier this year passed a measure that would end government subsidies to private student loan companies. The immense savings achieved by ending this program would be redirected to key education programs. Because of the budget resolution passed in April, Democrats have the ability to bring this bill up in the Senate under reconciliation procedures, which would only require 50 votes for passage. The chairman of the Senate HELP committee, Tom Harkin (IA), has been trying to get the bill out of the committee and to the Senate floor. But alas, "centrist" Senators have crowed in opposition. Ben Nelson of Nebraska is against the bill because he just "doesn't think we should turn this over to the federal government." I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that a major student loan company, NelNet is based in Nebraska. Senator Arlen Specter, who has has Sallie Mae in his home state of Pennsylvania, says he's worried about the 2,200 people in his state who work for the student loan industry. As The Big Picture points out, what about the MILLIONS who would benefit from more educational opportunities? What about the fact that we could have a more educated workforce that would increase productivity? We're seriously worried about 2,200 student loan jobs???

Several other Senators are actually worried that the bill doesn't save ENOUGH money, even though the Congressional Budget Office says it will save the government $87 billion over ten years. All of these Senators have voted for bills that have significantly reduced the deficit.

Several of these fiscal hawks, as The Hill is reporting, are the very people demanding that the health care bill be more generous in payments to rural doctors. Fiscal responsibility is great, but only when it doesn't hurt YOUR state.

A good democracy requires that politicians be motivated by what's best for their constituents. A functioning democracy is one where politicians are motivated by getting reelected. At the very least, they must be in tune with what their constituents are thinking and feeling. A bad democracy is one where politicians are primarily concerned with money and parochial interests. The United States Senate is conducive to these bad politicians. Senators are only up for reelection every six years, meaning they don't have to always be in tune with the needs of their constituents. Also, small states give disproportionate voice to certain groups of people, like student loan executives (aren't they all in the plain states and Delaware?), farmers and white people.

If Obama wants to enact change, he will need to figure out a way to beat the institutional roadblock of the United States Senate. It won't be easy.

That's it for a short entry tonight. Neither House of Congress was in session today, they'll be back tomorrow. We'll see you then.

No comments:

Post a Comment