Vail Valley Voices: What do elections tell Congress? |

Vail Valley Voices: What do elections tell Congress?

The 2010 elections proved that the American system of government is the most efficient and democratic in the world.

Voters were unhappy with the president and Congress, and they turned our country upside down at the polls on Election Day.

This is what our forefathers had in mind when they created our form of government. A new president has four years to prove he or she can do the job, senators get six years, and representatives get two years.

Since 2008, Americans have been disappointed and repeatedly declared they were not intelligent enough to understand the issues impacting the country. Those in power chose to ignore the pleas of the people and were trounced in return.

But what’s next? If the Republican majority in the House of Representatives doesn’t present constructive legislation, it will feel the wrath of the people in 2012.

What should Republicans propose during the new Congress? For one thing, they had better keep in mind that Americans want more jobs. When we are out of work and struggling to keep our homes, nothing else matters.

Republicans in the House should also immediately clean up their act.

Arguably, the easiest thing for them to do is make substantive changes to the way they do business and conduct themselves in an honorable manner. Keep in mind that most people have a very low opinion of our lawmakers.

Another suggestion is to end earmarks, the tactic that enables Congress to add expenditures to pending legislation without a full review.

Another is to accelerate the investigation of ethics violations by members, even members of the new majority and those members who have been in Congress for many years. Those found guilty should be publicly censured for breaking the rules.

And in a similar vein, relations with lobbyists should be reviewed and drastically tightened.

Most importantly, Republicans must develop and publish plans to improve the economy, education, energy transportation, foreign policy, etc. I don’t mean to suggest that all of these issues have to be addressed and reformed in the next two years. Rather, long-range agendas need to be vetted right now.

Our bloated budget must be carefully pared down at this time as we continue to fight our way out of a recession, although most economists strongly believe that government must spend to increase employment during such times.

I’m no expert, but I think the logic behind this perspective is sound.

Additionally, House Republicans must initiate a compromise relating to the Bush tax cuts that are due to expire this year. It would be wrong to raise taxes for anybody until after the recession ends.

Regarding the deficit, when will anybody in government admit that wars are expensive? The two wars we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan aren’t productive. The United States is doing nothing to improve the prospects of the countries we are occupying. Let’s exit now! Not next year or in 10 years.

And by the way, maybe we can save our brave soldiers from experiencing more heartache. The savings from these conflicts to nowhere would be tremendous.

Health care will continue to be a huge controversy in Washington. Obama proposed it, Congress passed it, and now most people hate it. We’re spending $1 trillion, and yet very few people have benefited. Health care legislation needs to be re-reformed, and it’s not even a year old.

The re-reform should include immediate benefits for the uninsured (the original purpose of the legislation), dramatic cost reductions (medical and insurance) and an all-out assault on medical cheaters, which some people say cost the United States more than $200 billion annually.

And last, House Republicans must lead the way toward entitlement reform. I know Social Security and Medicare are sacred cows. But they are bankrupting the country. There must be one congressperson who has the guts to lead this odyssey.

House Republicans have a chance to be heroes. But will they be obstructionists and partisans? Only time will tell.

Sal Bommarito is a novelist and frequent visitor to Vail over the past 20 years.

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