We the People: Leadership not brinkmanship

When Republican senators temporarily filibustered Chuck Hegel’s appointment as Secretary of Defense, Fox Network’s infotainment spokesperson Sean Hannity described the undemocratic procedural ploy as a “major win for the GOP.” This is the problem in Washington. Politicians strive mightily for their party and their wealthy constituents. They should work hard for the American people instead. If they did, we would not now face a sequestration countdown.

Sequestration was adopted by Congress as a childishly crude method to reduce all federal spending indiscriminately. This will damage our economy and the nation but everyone can avoid blame.

Representatives and senators casually left the capital to enjoy the weekend with the problem unresolved. Their cavalier attitude is an outrage and affront to all Americans.

Senator McCain called it a disservice to all Americans. Pentagon Chief of Staff General Odierno described the $50 billion cut to the military budget as a danger to American serviceman. He described Congressional fiscal uncertainty as a greater danger to America than terrorism. Unbeknownst to most citizens, the DoD operates on “continuing resolutions” instead of a budget, which encourages short term planning as well as inefficiency and waste.

That did not trouble Republicans or Democrats sufficiently to remain in Washington to work on a plan. Speaker Boehner disingenuously stated that he awaits a spending plan from the president.

The Constitution gave Congress the power of the purse. The speaker should propose a plan that incorporates compromises and adopts some Democratic ideas. The president should compromise and remove proposed tax increases from his proposed plan.

Comedian Stephen Colbert described the sequester as a terrible solution and not a terrible problem. The people should remember that Congress came up with this plan and Congress can modify it.

Colbert suggested that monkeys be suspended from the ceiling of the House of Representatives and if no solution was reached on sequestration, bananas should be distributed and the doors locked, and the creatures released for “Feeding Time at the Monkeyhouse.” Without a doubt a compromise would be reached within an hour or two.

Meanwhile, the NRA is quietly celebrating the fact that the Newtown massacre is beginning to recede from the headlines. This issue cannot go unaddressed. All reasonable protections and safeguards should be incorporated in a new comprehensive federal gun regulation. Reasonable gun owners and reasonable gun rights advocates would join the movement for sensible gun law reform.

Governor Cuomo needs to take a stand on hydrofracking in New York State. The issue of drilling for natural gas in shale needs a definitive solution. The longer he avoids a position on it, the more he appears to be avoiding leadership in order to protect chances for national office.

He passed a state budget early for the first time in 25 years. He still needs to find cuts and to stop borrowing by public authorities. The MTA has a huge debt and still “must” raise tolls and subway fares although it’s done little to cut spending.

Joe Lhota, former MTA chair, wants that legacy to convince voters to send him to City Hall in November! We should vote for any candidate that can finish the 92nd Street sewer excavation.

Locally, an expanded “Summer Stroll” along Third Avenue will be held this year. The social and commercial event received firm support from Senator Golden, Councilmember Gentile and Assemblymember Brook-Krasny. The success of last year’s event augers well for a bigger success this summer.

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