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A holiday wish: Maybe they'll stay home
by Molly Ivins
Creator's Syndicate/Star-Telegram
December 4, 2003

Call them...irresponsible. Call them...unreliable. Throw in...undependable, too.

Yes, it's undeniably true: The Congress of the United States makes Bart Simpson look like Averell Harriman.

The grownups have left the building. Good grief, what a horror show.

Thanks to David Chen of The New York Times for catching one little horror that might have gone unnoticed: "Senate Rejects Plea for Extra Year of Filing for 9-11 Awards."

Only 60 percent of the families who suffered losses on 9-11 have so far filed for compensation, presumably because of the notorious confusion and difficulty surrounding the process, with massive amounts of paperwork required.

The deadline is Dec. 22, and administrators of the Victim Compensation Fund have been scrambling for weeks to encourage families to apply -- language difficulties and in some cases lack of citizenship make it even more complicated and frightening for some.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey tried a classic tactic just before adjournment -- going to the Senate floor and asking for unanimous consent. Couldn't get it. Republican leaders opposed.

Here's an immortal quote from F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee: "The chairman views the extension as unnecessary and has concerns that it would provide a disincentive for people to file." Uh-huh.

And you may be wondering, given the condemnations of the Medicare "reform" bill from both left and right, which side actually won. It's so fabulous -- they both lost.

The Wall Street Journal, which is furious about the bill, is right. So is The Nation, and it's right, too! Hooray! A bill so awful absolutely that everyone hates it!

Yes, it is a huge new entitlement costing $400 billion over 10 years. No, it will not help many senior citizens. It's the silliest bill you ever saw -- it has a hole in the middle of it just like a doughnut, and it will be used to destroy Medicare. It uses taxpayer money to help drug companies, and insurance companies and HMOs, all the while running up debt, debt, debt.

And did they win ugly. The Medicare bill went down in the House -- it lost. And then the Republicans held the vote open for three hours, from 3 to 6 a.m., until Tom DeLay could bludgeon some sleep-deprived members into changing their votes.

These guys think nothing of changing the rules in the middle of the game. For that matter, they think nothing of rules.

The same morons who wrote this bill also passed, again this year, for the third year in a row, more tax cuts for corporations, so that regular people will have to pay more and we have even less money with which to do anything useful.

Not that they let that stop them -- they were in there just appropriating pork like there's no tomorrow. Whee, what a giveaway -- Santa has nothing on them. All you had to do was be a big special-interest donor to the Republican Party, and it was whoopee time at the Capitol.

What's so maddening is that we have nothing to show for all this spending. Our education hasn't been improved, our health care system is still falling apart, the air is getting dirtier, and we're killing the oceans, lakes and rivers.

There's no planning, no investment, no thought for the future. They're throwing away the seed corn, and we're sittin' here watching it happen. It's not just the money they're throwing away -- it's democratic traditions: bipartisanship, compromise, sound public policy.

It has been apparent for some time that much of the corporate elite in this country is blinded by greed, not just to long-term interests but to simple honesty. I think the same thing is starting to happen to our political leaders.

Molly Ivins writes for Creators Syndicate. 5777 W. Century Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045

Posted: December 5, 2003


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