Washington, D.C., has long been an island floating on a sea of hypocrisy. There are many castaways on this island, each playing a role in our national economic recklessness. But for some to blame the mess in D.C. on the Tea Party is utterly preposterous.
Last week, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter wrote an opinion piece lamenting of the failures of the 113th Congress. According to her, Congress’ failures can be laid directly at the feet of the cold, heartless Tea Party. Shea-Porter’s unhealthy obsession with the Tea Party, while ignoring her own far-left leaning ideology, only serves to illustrate our broken federal government, and why voters should resolve to elect representatives who will pledge to devolve powers back to the states.
Shea-Porter’s feeble attempt to blame the dysfunction in D.C. on a group she herself describes with the derogatory term “tea baggers” is a classic example of what is wrong with D.C. Agree or disagree with these law-abiding citizens who are doing nothing more than exercising their rights, they are her constituents, her employers. The uncouth manner in which Shea-Porter has treated her fellow citizens merely for holding her and her colleagues in Congress in check sets the tone for her misguided blame for the gridlock in D.C.
Shea-Porter uses the Tea Party as a scapegoat for the debt-ceiling fiasco, farm bill failure, Social Security and Medicare chaos, out of control college tuition, and alleged lack of “investment” (i.e., more overspending and excessive taxation). In her world, she and her colleagues are never to blame; it’s always those “other people.”
One column is not enough to cover the many ways Shea-Porter is wrong in her clearly self-serving, biased assessment as to the failures of her Congress, but I do want to help clarify the misconceptions regarding the looming debt-ceiling battle.
Prior to the creation of the debt ceiling, spending beyond our national resources had to be voted on a case-by-case basis. Simply put, we once believed as a nation that we only had so much money. Once we ran out of that money, and if the situation dictated (such as war), Congress had to vote separately on each piece of legislation that would increase our national debt. It was painful and slow by design. However, the debt ceiling was enacted by a bipartisan Congress to make spending money easier, and boy did it work. With the passage of the First Liberty Loan Act of 1917, Congress set in motion an apparatus that would doom our country to perpetual deficit spending.
Although separate in the legislative process, the debt ceiling was supposed to be tied to this little thing called the federal budget. But in violation of constitutional mandates (and simple common sense), Shea-Porter’s colleagues in both chambers of Congress failed to produce a federal budget for several years. In fact, when given the opportunity to force the passage of a federal budget and reinstitute a checks and balances procedure with the debt-ceiling process, Shea-Porter voted against the “No Budget, No Pay” legislation. When given the chance to be part of a solution, she decided to be an obstructionist. That’s not the Tea Party’s fault. This rests solely with Shea-Porter.
But in Shea-Porter’s world the debt ceiling is an arbitrary mechanism that should just be automatically increased. She blames the fiscal restraint of the Tea Party, when in fact she should be blaming the reckless abandonment of her Congress. America will go into default because Congress spent more than it should have, not because the Tea Party was insisting on some sort of fiscal sanity.
Although the debt ceiling has not stopped Congress from spending us into a $17 trillion hole (with some believing we are actually $70 trillion in debt), the debt ceiling was meant to be an opportunity for Congress to debate and justify its spending. But Shea-Porter and her colleagues would rather falsely blame the Tea Party instead of accepting their own culpability. No, Ms. Shea-Porter, the Tea Party isn’t to blame. The fault lies with the person you see every morning in the mirror.
Sadly, Shea-Porter equates failure or success based on the number of bills passed by Congress, believing it is the volume of legislation that Congress should be graded on. That is utterly absurd, but completely predictable for someone who feels more comfortable in D.C. than she does amongst her fellow New Hampshirites. Only a creature of D.C. would believe our representatives should be graded as it pertains to the passage of thousand-page monstrosities that no one reads, and countless pieces of legislation that serve as obstacles to our citizens. This does nothing more than prop up an apparatchik class working harder to justify their existence, forgetting the very citizens they swore to serve.
Shea-Porter’s Congress is a failure because they have inherited and, sadly, fully embraced a congressional legacy that falsely believes D.C. can solve all that ails America. Shea-Porter’s hypocrisy is on full display as she ridicules her congressional peers and demands they forgo the August break to remain in D.C. and “get the job done.” Considering Shea-Porter’s poor performance at her past town halls, it does not surprise me that she would rather stay in D.C. than return to New Hampshire to face her constituents.
Jeff Chidester was raised in New Hampshire and has lived and worked in the Far East and Europe for extended periods. He is the host of New Hampshire Perspective, heard each Sunday at noon on 96.7 The Wave and WGIR AM 610.