We the People: A call for sensible government

America is showing signs of economic improvement. The Dow Jones Average reached a five-year high (14,018). The Congressional Budget Office reported a January budget surplus for the first time in five years. We could actually reduce the federal budget deficit!

Of course, Congress must do its part or the recovery will be derailed. The president and Congress must cooperate and impose sensible budget cuts before the sequestration deadline. Senate Republicans seem fixated on obfuscation and obstruction instead.

President Obama’s choice for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, is being held hostage by Senate Republicans although the Armed Services Committee voted to move his appointment for a vote. Senate Republicans are filibustering a vote on this important appointment. Why do Republicans fight tooth and nail for partisan goals when they can’t effect reasonable budget cuts or gun control reform?

Senator Lindsay Graham vowed to prevent action in the Senate because he is convinced President Obama is somehow responsible for the cowardly terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi.

Although this is a legitimate concern for the State Department and a tragedy to the families of the Americans who lost their lives, what will Graham accomplish by holding the legislature hostage? The president must be able to select a cabinet member without being forced to perform like a marionette for Senator Graham. He should be ashamed for turning tragedy into a political theater for the benefit of his party.

We need sensible action in New York, too. New York City must trim its spending. The city will save more than $100 million a year after new bus contracts are negotiated. This shows that a lot could be saved if the city put its mind to it. The state has cut spending but its $143 billion budget is still too big. State Medicare spending is out of control. New York State has the most expensive Medicare program in the nation, with more than $50 billion spent every year.

Meanwhile Long Island College Hospital will be closed by New York State. The state could have a $500 million windfall when it sells LICH’s valuable real estate. Will the state share the bounty with cash-strapped SUNY Downstate Medical Center?

The system of compensation for persons hurt by government is out of control as well. A dentist besmirched by former Attorney General Eliot Spitzer was awarded over $7 million for his trouble. Can society afford to pay every person injured or harmed by an agent of the government? We need to reform our system of compensation for all victims of wrongs.

The district attorney’s office needs to explain recent events. How can a high profile bureau chief remain in the office after an old prosecution resulted in a multimillion dollar award due to a wrongful conviction? Another ADA will get a sweetheart plea deal reducing a felony charge for a savage attack on an EMT to a misdemeanor and community service. The deal could allow him to keep his job! In the Police Officer Figoski murder prosecution, how did the office fail to secure a conviction for the getaway driver or a conviction for the highest charge for the shooter? What is going on with your office, Joe Hynes?

We must apply common sense to the problems of society. We would benefit from a fair and inexpensive method to banish society’s worst malefactors. They should be deemed ineligible for multimillion dollar awards, which would stop endless lawsuits.

A cap on recovery for pain and suffering or emotional harm would discourage all persons slightly aggrieved from bringing a lawsuit. We need to reform gun regulation on a national level. We need to spend less money. We need our legislators to legislate and not spend time and energy trying to outfox and outmaneuver their partisan adversaries. It is time for the people of America to insist that action is taken by our leaders.

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