When the Going Gets Tough … Take a Vacation

Congressional Quarterly, in its daily update last Friday, described what is next for Congress:

The House "is done for the next 10 days," having voted to take the next week off (Democrats, to their credit, wanted to cancel the recess for more budget talks). The Senate's "President's Day recess has begun; the next session where something might get done (emphasis added) starts at 2 on Monday, Feb. 25."

Ron Fournier is a veteran political journalist, having worked at The Associated Press in two stints (among other stops) before joining the National Journal. I've always respected his writing.

A short but powerful take from Fournier on the current state of Congress:

The amount of unfinished business is stunning: A vacancy atop the Pentagon’s chain of command, billions of dollars of haphazard budget cuts due soon to take effect, immigration reform, gun control, climate change, and millions of jobless Americans. So what’s a Congress to do?

Take a vacation.

In Washington, it is politely called a 10-day “recess.” Lawmakers explain how hard they work at town halls and fundraisers back home. But their job is to legislate and to fix problems.

If you took 10 days off with critical work undone and deadlines threatening, how would your boss respond?


3 Weeks, 3 Big Issues at Statehouse

A popular phrase about Washington politics is that the the republic — or at least your tax dollars — are safer when Congress is not in session. If that is the case, one can rest easy for a fortnight (always liked that British term). Snow shut down the nation’s capital last week and a President’s Day recess takes lawmakers back home or elsewhere in the coming days.

What about in the Hoosier state? Legislators seem determined to exit Indianapolis quickly. Whether any harm is done before that time remains to be seen. The General Assembly session must end by March 14, but the committee deadline is being pushed ahead by a week and all involved are trying to wrap up business by March 5. Is that good or bad for you?

  • Good if the increase in unemployment insurance taxes is delayed. It seems straighforward. Leave last year’s increase intact and companies will pay near $350 million more in taxes, the trust fund will remain woefully out of balance and employees will lose their jobs because battered businesses have no other place to cut. Legislators, particularly those in the House, need to hear from you. Check out the details and make a difference
  • Bad if they proceed with passing legislation that prohibits employers from having a policy that disallows guns in the workplace. This appears headed to the governor, however, so a veto is likely the best hope for common sense to prevail. Here are the details
  • Good if someone in power stands up for taxpayers and the poor and strives to bring about meaningful township reform. Our money is not being used wisely and the poor are not getting all they deserve with administrative costs that exceed actual relief. Meaningful is not a township-by-township referendum, but — for a start — getting rid of advisory boards and letting county councils have binding budget overview. Read more

Sure, there are a few other issues out there. But get these three right and the good will exceed the harm.