Time for Washington to join the real world

Time for Washington to join the real world
Hopefully, you have never worked at a job where the main goal of your co-workers is to take credit for your company's major accomplishments.

If you have plenty of experience dealing with such situations, may we offer a suggestion: run for Congress.

Capitol Hill would be the perfect environment for you to test your well-honed skills as you deal with prima donna members of the U.S. House and Senate.

Many of the people we have sent to Washington to do our work, if employed in the private sector, may quickly find their careers on the line. Employee productivity, after all, makes the world go 'round.

Congress, however, exists in its own strange reality, that often isn't results-oriented at all. Stuff that should be accomplished with high priority enters a strange gridlock.

Why? Everybody is so worried about who will get the credit when some work actually does get done.

Plus, it's easy to tell even way out here in South Dakota, isolated from all the rancor that takes place in the nation's capital, that the climate there is less than productive.

Senate Democrats have decided to draw a line in the sand, challenging President Bush by reversing his cuts to education, health research and grants to local communities as they gird for the president's first-ever veto of a regular appropriations bill.

It's natural to at first be inclined to give praise to the White House for attempting to keep spending in check – that is, until you review exactly what's on the chopping block. Bush is threatening to veto a $600 billion health and education measure that reverses a raft of cuts sought by Bush to health research, special education and funding for grants to community groups that help the poor, among others.

According to the Associated Press, battles over anti-crime funds, transportation and housing and perhaps the homeland security budget will follow.

Some lawmakers predict the president will be unyielding and the battle could drag into next year.

"I don't see it getting worked out. I really don't," predicted Rep. Tom Latham, R-IA, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.

More than any other of the 12 annual spending bills setting agency budgets for the 2008 budget year, the health and education measure defines the differences between Bush and Democrats controlling Congress.

Bush sought to cut $4 billion from last year's levels of the $152 billion portion of the measure that Congress adjusts at its discretion. The rest of the bill mostly funds inflationary increases to Medicare and Medicaid.

Democrats instead added almost $11 billion to Bush's request, including almost $4 billion more than the president sought for the Education Department. For research at the National Institutes of Health, Democrats added $1 billion over 2007 funding; Bush sought a $289 million cut.

And Bush sought to eliminate the $630 million budget for the Community Services Block Grant program, which provides the federal seed money for community action agencies that offer job training programs, emergency housing, food aid and other services to the poor.

Bush is intent on issuing vetoes and has so far rebuffed Democratic pleas for negotiations. But Democrats and some Republicans hope that once he gets a few vetoes out of his system, the White House will signal a willingness to compromise.

We wish Bush and members of Congress could simply find a way to set aside some of their differences and accomplish something. We have problems out here in God's country. They have the ability to fix them.

They should do just that. They can start by showing concern for something other than their own careers.

After all, isn't that why we elected our government leaders in the first place?

Frankly, we don't care who brings us health or education funding. We don't care who provides assistance revenue for research, or housing assistance, or economic development.

We don't care who brings us needed reforms to Medicare and Medicaid, or who makes sure our veterans receive needed benefits.

We just want the president and our lawmakers to work in harmony for a change.

We want elected officials to do their jobs.

The Vermillion Plain Talk editorials reflect the opinion of Plain Talk editor David Lias. You may contact him at david.lias@plaintalk.net

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