Paul Adair is a 21-year Germantown resident, retired scientist, writer, and lecturer.
Ron Johnson announced on Sunday that he was bringing a lawsuit against the federal Office of Personnel Management to stop health insurance subsidies for Congressional staffers. These Federal employees get their health insurance on the ACA exchanges. Although many workers in both the private and public sectors get some health insurance assistance from their employers, Johnson (with a net worth of at least $12 million) thinks that all staffers should pay for their own insurance in-full.
The move was rightfully criticized by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner. In a formal press release, Sensenbrenner said, “Senator Johnson’s lawsuit is an unfortunate political stunt. I am committed to repealing Obamacare, but the employer contribution he’s attacking is nothing more than a standard benefit that most private and all federal employees receive – including the President. Success in the suit will mean that Congress will lose some of its best staff and will be staffed primarily by recent college graduates who are still on their parents’ insurance.”
Our Congressman was right-on in his assessment of Sen. Johnson's inane move. In order to attract some of our brightest into public service, Federal employees should get benefits comparable to those in the private sector. However, he destroyed the righteousness of his own statement by continuing with, “This will make it even more difficult to fight the President and his older, more experienced staff.”
To fight the President? Is that why we pay Mr. Sensenbrenner a salary of $174,000/year? To fight the President? Is that why we supplied Sensenbrenner a 2012 staff salary of over $850,000? To fight the President?
Fighting the President? Is that what our elected Congressman believes to be his number one job? Not working for the good of the country? Not working for the interests of his constituents? Is this how far our political discourse has degenerated? Have belligerent attitudes such as those expressed by Congressman Sensenbrenner toward our President made the United States totally ungovernable?
During a recent Richfield town hall meeting, one of Sensenbrenner's constituents remarked that so far, he has voted 46 times to repeal Obamacare. Sensenbrenner immediately interrupted, saying, “and I would vote 46 more times to eliminate Obamacare.” This seems to one of the few actions that House Republicans have taken-voting again and again and again to overturn an established and successful law that helps their constituents.
In a July interview, the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner was questioned about how little this Congress has actually done. He smugly replied, "We should not be judged on how many new laws we create. We should be judged on how many laws we repeal.”
This attitude of “fighting the President”, of wanting to be judged not on what they do, but on what they repeal, has led to Sensenbrenner and his House pals winning the distinction of being the most do-nothing Congress in history. They wouldn't want to actually have any accomplishments. That might reflect favorably on President Obama. (Never mind the country.) Last year, Congress passed a record low 65 bills into law, refusing to even bring up many bills for consideration on the House floor.
And Sensenbrenner's self-defined purpose of “fighting the President” led to him and his House Republican Caucus shutting down the Government for sixteen days. No wonder that the American public's opinion of Congress sank to an all time favorability low of 9% in November.
If Mr. Sensenbrenner can't think of anything else for him and his staff to do than “fight the President”, I humbly have a few suggestions:
He could pass a Farm Bill
He could vote a clean Debt Limit so that the US will not default on the spending that we already incurred.
He could pass comprehensive immigration reform.
He could increase the minimum wage.
He could extend unemployment insurance coverage.
He could pass a jobs bill, including funds to repair the country's crumbling infrastructure.
He could invest in federal Research and Development, repairing the havoc that Congress' sequester has wreaked.
He could defend Social Security and Medicare rather than trying to chip away at them at every opportunity.
He could pass common sense gun safety laws, including universal background checks and limits on clip capacity.
Instead of “fighting the President” at every opportunity, why can't Mr. Sensenbrenner put that same energy into fighting for his constituents? As House Speaker Boehner stated in October, “This isn't some d#@$ game!” Instead of constantly “fighting the President”, why doesn't our Congressman decide to actually govern? Why not try to pass some, you know, actual legislation? Why not put animosity aside and work for the good of the country? That would be a welcome change.