Skip to comments.Washington, D.C. and the Problem of Time
Posted on 10/26/2017 6:50:02 AM PDT by jfd1776
We have plenty of time.
When were young, everyone thinks we have time plenty of time.
We tell our children to study, to eat, to exercise, to learn, and they look at the clock, and they look at their parents, and what do they think? What do those haggard, grey-haired grown-ups know? Im a kid; I have plenty of time.
The same continues as we age. In our twenties, we date for fun and put off marriage; theres still plenty of time. In our thirties, we spend our money on houses and vacations rather than saving for retirement; theres still plenty of time.
Only later, often much too late, do we realize there wasnt time after all, and we should have focused on what mattered, and made it happen, when we were young, and had energy, rather than letting those golden opportunities pass us by.
Politicians (the majority, anyway) are human too. They too suffer from the all-to-human error of imagining immortality, imagining that they have plenty of time.
As Congressional incumbency has become almost-guaranteed job security, our representatives in the US House and especially in the US Senate, with their six year terms and incredible reelection odds tend to adopt a very different view of the time-space continuum than their constituents have.
They lose their appreciation for the rest of the world certainly for their districts and states and they adopt the mentality of the Beltway, The District of Columbia. And they lose the sense of urgency that their constituents felt on election day.
Ill vote for John Smith! Hell get in there and do the right thing!
But then he got there. He arrived. And life happened.
There are committee hearings to attend, fundraisers to hold, speeches to give. The day-to-day business of cutting taxes, trimming regulations, and shrinking the leviathan isnt as exciting, or as urgent, as the meeting at 9, the lunch at 11, the cocktail party at 5 or the dinner at 8. Not that cutting taxes and trimming regulations arent important... just that they arent on the calendar.
A steak will get cold if Im not there on time to eat it; legislation wont get tough or spoil if it sits another day.
So many of our politicians are elected with the best of intentions (of course, many arent, but thats a different problem) but as soon as they arrive, the energy of the campaign is changed into something else. Instead of shrinking the government, they become a part of it.
This has become the key problem of 2017.
The American people elected a new president an unusual one, with an unusual resume with the intention of getting things done. Elected with majorities (however slim) in the House and Senate, it was assumed that there would be a flurry of Republican legislation in 2017 for the president to sign.
It never happened.
The House and Senate took months and months to think about Obamacare, about tax cuts, about tax reform, about regulatory reform. With both houses and the White House, they were expected to at least pass the basic platform planks quickly, perhaps leaving the more difficult things, the more contentious issues, for later.
But no, everything stalled in Congress, as the legislative leadership tried to craft the best possible healthcare reform, the best possible tax reform, the best possible reviews of dozens of other complex issues.
So, instead of making quick progress on the obvious things Obamacare repeal (leaving replacement packages for later), tax cuts (leaving complex systemic reforms for later), and so forth Congress has been remarkably slow. They think they have time to get it right.
This is what we hear from the politicians: they dont want to make the mistakes of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid era, in rushing ahead with half-baked ideas; they want to craft the best possible reforms. And this may seem laudable.
But there is an old saying (often repeated to this writer by an old boss): The perfect is the enemy of the good.
Congress postponement of even some tax cuts, their postponement of the big, easy repeals of Obamacare, and their postponement of legislatively scuttling many of the destructive regulations that the Trump administration has had to blunt with Executive Orders in the meantime, has left the economy in limbo. We want to see laws, not EOs; we want to see some permanent steps forward, even if theres more to come later.
For example, if were hoping for a 40 or 50 percent income tax cut, Congress could have passed a 20% cut right away, just to get the party started. Such an injection of energy into the economy would have created true growth in the meantime, as they sort out more complex reforms and deeper cuts. But we got nothing, just the promise that something is coming, that when we finally see it, someday, its going to be really, really good.
2017 is almost gone; its filing season for the 2018 elections and our ruling class thinks they have plenty of time to get it just perfect.
OUT IN THE REAL WORLD
In the heartland of America, however, as we wait for the legislators in their Beltway bubble to cut taxes, cut regulations, end Obamacare, and give the economy the permanent clarity we expected from them months ago what is happening to us?
Tens of thousands of entrepreneurial-minded people are postponing the launching of new businesses, because theyre not yet sure that its a safe environment for their ventures. Maybe next year? Maybe the following? Maybe the window of market opportunity will have passed by then?
Millions of people who would be among the first hires at those new businesses, arent because the jobs arent there yet to take. Maybe next year? Maybe the following? And until then, they must continue on the unemployment rolls, the welfare rolls, or the couch in the parents basement.
Tens of thousands of suffering people, perhaps more likely millions, who had insurance coverage a decade ago but now dont because of Obamacare, must put off their surgeries, their chemo, their radiation therapy, their hip or knee replacements, another year which often allows the problem to get worse, perhaps to the point of being untreatable all because Congress couldnt kill Obamacare and let the healthcare sector return to the free market in February as everyone expected.
Millions of people who work for existing American manufacturers, ever fearful of the competition from cheaper manufacturing abroad, continue to struggle, as their factories cut and cut, outsource and outsource, trying to survive in this hostile economic climate. The right business tax cuts, the right regulatory relaxations, would allow these manufacturers to breathe easier, but as long as those cuts are postponed, businesses must live in the environment that exists. So every month, the factory with ten assembly lines moves one more to China, or moves one more to India, not because they want to, but because they have to because the regulatory changes they expected, that could have kept them competitive here, havent yet materialized.
Every action is a foundation for another action. Every business startup or expansion is the foundation for further growth. If all this is postponed a year, think of the geometric results: It isnt just that people have one less year of that particular paycheck, that particular patent, that particular commute.
Every year that these changes are postponed is a lost year, and everything that would have come from it will be weaker than it could have been, if Washington DC had struck while the iron was hot, on January 20, 2017, as the American people had every right to expect.
Maybe its partially because of different personalities; the president and the legislators have different styles. Maybe its partially because many in Congress dont want to be seen as delivering a victory to a President they dont like personally.
But they must rise above it. This shouldnt be about personalities or styles or parties. This country already suffered through eight dreadful years of minimal growth. We desperately need the economic boom that only tax cuts and regulatory reductions can promote.
Real people dont have jobs, or cant get a start on their careers, and wont, until the legislation is in place. Real people cant afford operations or treatments, and wont, until Obamacare is repealed and pricing and insurance can get back to normal. Real people lose more and more years of savings, losing the compound interest that only an earlier start can provide, making retirement more difficult for themselves, and college attendance more difficult for their children.
Congress: Repeal Destructive Regulations, NOW. Repeal Obamacare, NOW. And Cut Taxes, NOW.
America just doesnt have time to waste.
Copyright 2017 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based Customs broker, international trade compliance trainer, writer and actor. His columns are regularly found in Illinois Review.
Permission is hereby granted to forward freely, provided it is uncut and the IR URL and byline are included.
The biggest reason why Congress doesn’t have the time they think they do is because they only work about 100 days a year and most of that time is spent on being in chambers listening to other politicians talking about their pet projects OR obstructing on something because the other side likes it. Waste of money if you ask me. The President should have more control on what is done. If that were the case, we would be in great shape as a country. Judges are another huge problem.
Napscoordinator... you’re right in your analysis of congress, but dead wrong on your analysis of the presidency.
The president already has too much power.
Think back on all the damage done by Obama, Clinton, Carter, LBJ, FDR-that-SOB... and WILSON....
Can you imagine if THEY had even more power than they already had? the damage they could have done?
No, we don’t need to empower presidents any more.
But you’re certainly right that we should make congress work harder.
The imperial presidency is actually one of the main reasons why congress has stepped back; many of them just don’t feel they have to do much if the president and the Fed and the SCOTUS take care of all the big stuff.
The e-Republicans are obstructing the peoples agenda. This has nothing to do with time.
EPubs had no problem passing whatever Obama wanted. Now we have a popular president who wants to get tings done for the American people and the swamp is trying to drown him. Democrats are a lost cause. EPubs need to be replaced forthwith. They do not want problems solved. That would leave them with nothing to bellyache about.
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