“What do you do?” may be the No. 1 question asked in[side] the Beltway. It achieves two things: It gives the asker the opportunity to brag about their own job title and lets them know whether the person they’re talking to is worth their time.
Job titles and associations are the lifeblood of D.C. You’re no one unless you have a title, whether it’s “congressman,” “ambassador,” “chief of staff,” or an impressive title at a firm or media company. Unlike most jobholders in America, politicians in D.C. get to keep their titles for life. Think about it: You can be the CEO or vice president of the largest corporation in America, but once you leave that job, so goes the title. In Washington, D.C., you can have the title of “president,” “congressperson,” or “senator,” and that is your title for life. It doesn’t matter if you were a terrible congressperson who served only one term; you will forever be referred to and introduced as a “congressperson.”
It’s bizarre perks of D.C. power such as this that draw thousands of young, type-A recent college grads to Washington — out of a desire not to serve our country but to get a title. And if you don’t have a title, good luck getting someone to talk to you for longer than two minutes. Washington is a town obsessed with titles and where being an obnoxious blowhard is socially acceptable. But it wasn’t always like this, and it’s certainly not what our Founding Fathers envisioned.
Now, I realize that contempt of Congress is and should be the natural order of things. “The best Congress that money can buy.” “The only native American criminal class.” “No man’s life, liberty or property is safe while Congress is in session.” And that’s just Mark Twain and Will Rogers; the rest of us no doubt have even more pungent observations regarding the collective entity known as Congresscritters.
But the notion that “lawmakers” (stop, enough already!) are worried about “careers” at the public trough ought to be contemptible to every taxpayer. And, if Congressthings had any sense of shame, to the Honorables Themselves. But, of course, they don’t. Only someone with a soul as dead as Little Nell, a hide as thick as Joe Biden‘s noggin, and the moral conscience of Bill Clinton has the effrontery to run for Congress these days, and every attempt to “reform” the system — from the disastrous 17th amendment to term limits to McCain-Feingold (nothing like a “reform” to “get money out of politics” written by the “most reprehensible” of the Keating Five) — has resulted in complete failure.
For John Roberts was right: in the law’s practical effect, it is a tax, only a tax, and nothing but a tax — and if you think it’s going to fund “health care” for the lame, the halt and the blind, you’re out of your mind. The gullible, naive and the mendacious may not be able to discriminate between “health care” and “insurance,” but that was exactly what Obama was counting on when he sold — barely — his apparatchiks in Congress on the notion that Barrycare would only add to the sum total of human happiness by taking care of the neediest and blah blah blah your doctor, period. That doesn’t make Roberts’ cowardly decision good — he had a chance to put a stake through the PPACA’s heart once and for all, and he choked. It’s a decision that will live in Supreme Court infamy until the day the act is repealed.
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We used to think that changing Congress meant changing which party controlled it. Now we know better. Real change can’t begin until the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party is gone. Fundamental transformation works both ways, and two can play at that game.
[P]olitical ignorance strengthens the case for limiting the role of government – especially the federal government.
But David isn’t entirely correct in analogizing faith in government to second marriages. Most people devote far more time and effort to figuring out who they should marry than they do to deciding who to vote for in elections. While many marriages still fail, the average marriage promotes happiness far better than the average politician promotes the public interest. For all its flaws, the marriage/dating market is actually a good example of “voting with your feet.” Participants in foot voting institutions have strong incentives to seek out relevant information and evaluate it rationally because they know their choices will make a real difference. By contrast, ballot box voters have strong incentives to be ignorant, and irrational in their evaluation of what information they do know. Lots of people still make mistakes in deciding who to marry. But imagine what the error rate would be if spouses were chosen in an election, assigned by Congress, or allocated by a government bureaucracy.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi was emphatic. Mitt Romney’s refusal to release more than two years of his personal tax returns, she said, makes him unfit to win confirmation as a member of the president’s Cabinet, let alone to hold the high office himself.
Sen. Harry Reid went farther: Romney’s refusal to make public more of his tax records makes him unfit to be a dogcatcher.
They do not, however, think that standard of transparency should apply to them. The two Democratic leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives are among hundreds of senators and representatives from both parties who refused to release their tax records. Just 17 out of the 535 members of Congress released their most recent tax forms or provided some similar documentation of their tax liabilities in response to requests from McClatchy over the last three months. Another 19 replied that they wouldn’t release the information, and the remainder never responded to the query.
The widespread secrecy in one branch of the government suggests a self-imposed double standard. Yet while American politics has come to expect candidates for the presidency to release their tax returns, the president isn’t alone in having a say over the nation’s tax laws. Congress also stands to gain or lose by the very tax policies it enacts, and tax records – more than any broad financial disclosure rules now in place – offer the chance to see whether the leaders of the government stand to benefit from their own actions.
“Senior public officials, especially members of Congress and presidential candidates, should be required to disclose their tax returns so that the public can monitor potential conflicts of interest,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, a nonpartisan watchdog group.