‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’ –Lewis Carroll
Rep. Amash (R-MI) on the border security crisis
“I think both sides are making a mountain out of a molehill,” Amash said in an interview on Friday with the Sentinel-Standard. “Both sides are pretty stubborn. Both are exaggerating the significance of the wall as part of this legislation.
“Whether the wall is $2 billion or $5 billion will have relatively little practical effect. It’s not unusual. These kinds of things happen in a lot of these fights, where a particular element gets exaggerated for political purposes.”…
“I don’t have an inherent objection to a border wall,” he said. “It needs to be done thoughtfully. It should take into consideration private property at the border and environmental concerns. If those things can be taken into account, I’m OK with it.”
Rep. Amash argues above that a few billions are small potatoes, but this conflicts with his view that budget items ought to be considered individually and in detail.
But the congressman believes the issue has been blown out of proportion. He thinks much more attention should be paid to the entire spending bill, because it includes far too much waste that will continue to balloon the federal deficit, and in turn the massive national debt.
“If the issue is whether we’re going to spend $2 billion or $5 billion on a wall, that’s not worthwhile (for a shutdown),” he said. “The real issue people should be concerned about is the excessive spending in other areas. It’s the departments and programs we are spending hundreds of billions on (that are the problem).”
Amash said that in order to prevent future shutdowns, a more open and deliberative process needs to be established. He feels that each item in spending bills should be discussed and examined individually, rather than each party taking hard stands and fighting.
Rep. Amash, a conservative Republican, believes the government spends too much. However, in this article at least, he fails to explain why he thinks spending billions for border security doesn’t deserve careful examination.
I expect Rep. Amash to object to “executive overreach,” but he didn’t mention any concern over that.
In his memoir, Travels with Herodotus, Ryszard Kapuscinski tells the story of a Persian potentate intent on making war with a neighboring tribe. The tribe’s queen predicts that the Persian will get his fill of blood if he persists. As it happens the Persians are defeated, and the Queen, overlooking the dead, brutally makes her threat real.
Rep. Tom Reed’s support for Donald Trump, hoping that he would “disrupt government,” reminded me of this story. Tom doubtless hoped disruption would boost his bill collecting business, cripple medicare, social security, and more generally disrupt the social safety net which he abhors. Tom was right in that Trump’s election did bring disruption, did reduce his taxes, promises to further cripple the social safety net, and much more–responsible government, civil peace, international relations, compassionate immigration law, our military, and efforts to combat climate change are examples. Will Tom someday get his fill of disruption and discord? There is no sign of it yet.
According to the NPR article cited, Democrats propose the following changes to House Rules:
- Democrats will revive the “Gephardt Rule,” introduced in the late 1970s by Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., that automatically raises the debt ceiling — the nation’s borrowing limit — once the House passes a budget.
- Democrats are changing the rules regarding motions “to vacate the chair,” a procedural tool that could be used to force out a sitting House speaker.
- Creating a committee to address climate change. The panel will not have subpoena power or the ability to introduce legislation so it will not be as powerful as a similar committee created by Pelosi during the previous Democratic majority from 2007 to 2011, but the issue is expected to be a major priority for the party’s progressive wing.
- Creating a bipartisan select committee tasked with coming up with proposals to “modernize and improve” the way Congress operates.
- Setting new ethics rules that prohibit lawmakers and aides from sitting on corporate boards and a new requirement for annual ethics training for all lawmakers.
- Reviving a rule that requires 72 hours before major legislation can get a vote in the House to ensure all lawmakers have time to review the bill.
- Amending rules to extend bans on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and to allow religious headwear to be worn in the House chamber.
These changes don’t correspond well to what reportedly was agree to with the Problem Solvers. One wonders if the neglected changes have been dropped or only are considered unimportant by the NPR reporters.
For reference, the changes reportedly agreed to previously are these:
- The first proposal would require that any legislation that achieves 290 cosponsors — three-fifths of the House — be debated and get a timely floor vote.
- The second would mandate that any amendment with at least 20 cosponsors from both parties would get a debate and a vote.
- The final proposal says every member in every new Congress can introduce one bill on the committee on which he or she serves that would be guaranteed debate and a committee vote as long as the measure is bipartisan and germane to that panel’s jurisdiction.
If the Problem Solvers are miffed, perhaps we will learn why.
Be calm in arguing, for fierceness makes error a fault and truth discourtesy. —George Herbert
Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.–Mark Twain
I’ll sing like a bird.–John Dean
I’m all in favor of serious discussion that’s based on facts from reliable sources. Allusions, anecdotes, and sound bites? Not so much.–constituent comment on Tom Reed’s facebook page 12/11/18
Silly arguments in favor of a Southern border wall seen or heard on facebook:
- A country without a border is not a country!
- A wall will keep drugs out.
- A wall is the “proper tool for the job.”
- Opposition is “political.”
- Most Americans want it.
- GOP added seats in the Senate.
- A wall is like a front door.
- Obama did what he did, so Trump can have his wall.
- It needn’t be a concrete wall; it could be a steel wall.–Tom Reed
- No one really wants a long wall, so a short wall is a reasonable compromise.–Tom Reed
Silly arguments heard on TV news:
- Trump is a good President, so his crimes don’t matter. –Senator Hatch
- Cohen’s conviction has nothing to do with Russia, so it doesn’t matter.
- It’s all Cohen’s fault–as a lawyer he should have known better than to do as asked.
- Campaign finance violations, if any, are no big deal.
- The Logan Act has seldom if ever been enforced, so violations don’t matter.
- Campaign officials’ communications with the Russian government, if there were any, were all proper.
- If Congress should move to impeach, it would only reflect dirty politics rather than “dirty deeds.”
- What about Hillary Clinton?
Tom Reed’s view, that there is little substance to current political debates, which are no more than “political theater,” is fishy. Will we agree to spend billions based on political theater? If we do, it won’t be the first time.
Theater, along with other arts and sciences, might help guide us if is honest theater, more than allusions, anecdotes, and sound bites.
We Americans don’t know as much as we think we do. For example, only 59% of us guess that the most Americans killed by others are killed with firearms. Here is more data from the IPSOS study of misperceptions in various countries. This data if for the United States:
|Use of renewable energy
|How many are immigrants
|How many are Muslims
Our ignorance may explain why we find it so hard to agree on what is fact. The IPSOS site has a quiz for those who might like to test their knowledge.