Kremer’s Corner: Congress is broken and no one can fix it

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Kremer’s Corner:  Congress is broken and no one can fix it

Sooner or later all of us reach that point in life when we throw in the towel and utter those dirty words “I am retiring.”

Sometimes it is health that forces that decision and other times it’s some company policy that forces people to leave work. Many of the members of the current U.S. Congress, at last count 31, have announced that they are leaving Washington with no intention to come back except as a tourist or a lobbyist.
The announced retirement of House Speaker Paul Ryan is the product of years and years of frustration with the way Congress works and many of his party and mine are leaving for the same reason.

Once upon a time the floor of the House or the Senate was the place where historic debates took place and meaningful laws were passed affecting the lives of almost all Americans.

The glory days when the Congress passed historic Civil Rights laws or laws giving Americans better health care are long gone.

These days Congress doesn’t pass very much.

The massive tax reform bill which passed a short time ago was over 2,000 pages. It is safe to say that only a handful of the 435 House members read the bill or even tried to understand all the obvious and hidden benefits that were contained in this monster.

Once this bill was rushed through both houses and signed into law, it took weeks before the business world found out that not all of the wished-for goodies were that good.

Farmers and small businessmen are discovering all kinds of provisions that may threaten their survival.

Most of our readers are waiting for the good or bad news from their accountants as to how much the new tax law may crush them next year with the loss of all types of deductibles.

This year’s round of retirements is being caused by several factors.

Some members are leaving because they will be losing very lucrative committee assignments and don’t want to stay in Washington as an obscure member.

Some are leaving because they face tough re-election campaigns and don’t have the stomach or the money to fight for another term.

A few are tired of defending a president who is hard to defend. Some will say that they want to spend more time with their families, even though in some cases their children have grown up and are not hanging around to chill with their mom or dad.

The retirement of House Speaker Paul Ryan is symptomatic of the big political picture in Washington.

Ryan never wanted to be Speaker and took the job because he was the only person who could get the votes to take it on.

Once he was Speaker he became frustrated with the infighting among his various factions. The 60-member Freedom Caucus has been a thorn in Ryan’s side and their day to day tantrums could wear out the strongest politicians.

Ryan may be anxious to return to his wife and growing family, but he also recognizes that Congress is broken and won’t be fixed for a long time to come.

It is hard to pass any serious laws in either house because of the many factions that keep stopping things. A good example of how the Congress is fractured is that it took three years for both houses to pass a law on sex trafficking.

It seemed simple but simple things don’t get done in Washington.

Those of us who have held public office are partisans in one way or another. We wear our party on our sleeves and promote the themes that are consistent with our beliefs.

But public office today is not a fun job.

The need for massive amounts of money for campaigns never stops. Most newly elected officials begin raising money for their next campaign the day after they are elected.

Social media is a constant presence and any size slip up will be magnified by your enemies. Fresh faces will emerge on the political scene, but they are outnumbered by a large number of career politicians whose only goal is survival.

I am not a cynic about government. I want the best and the brightest to emerge in Washington, Albany and in all local offices.

It may well happen but for our country it can’t come soon enough.

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