At the end of August, Rasmussen Reports released data from a poll it conducted on the approval rating of Congress. The poll found that an incredibly anemic 9 percent of Americans surveyed felt that Congress was doing an excellent or fair job. You heard right – only 9 percent of Americans approve of the way Congress is doing its job! This is the lowest approval rating of any Congress since the statistic was first kept track of in the 1970s; and it was taken before Congress passed Bush’s Big Bank Bailout Boondoggle so does not reflect a probable even lower view of Congress today.
With these poll numbers most Americans agree that Congress is not doing its job. But, let’s be honest: the current Congress is a rotten, stinking corpse. It has worked against the will of the American people, legislated against the best interests of our country, and totally abdicated its sacred responsibilities by giving the President, Treasury Secretary, and Federal Reserve chief carte blanche in further ruining our economy, all in the name of political expediency and campaign contributions.
Take the $800 bailout package, for instance. Congress passed this measure in the face of at least 70 percent opposition from the American people. Whatever happened to representative government? It was discarded for campaign contributions. The Washington watchdog group, Center for Responsive Politics, reported that the senators who voted for the bailout have received, on average, contributions to their campaigns totaling $3,986,723 since 1989 – this is 139 percent more than was received by those senators opposing the bailout over the same time period. To give a specific example: Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut supported the bailout while receiving nearly $10 million from the finance sector over his career; Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont opposed the bailout while receiving just $167,045 while in Congress.
The behavior of House members is better, probably owing to the fact that all members are up for reelection this November, but still a correlation exists between contributions from Wall Street and voting for the bailout. House members who voted for the corporate welfare to Wall Street received an average of $833,077 from the finance sector since 1989, as opposed to $589,417 for members who opposed the scheme.
Of course, we were told by our leaders that the measure was necessary to unclog the credit markets, thereby saving the economy from total collapse, and consequently protecting the assets of ordinary Americans. Nonsense! The bailout will do no such thing. During the Great Depression, the government instituted similar measures to revive the economy; this included government spending to increase aggregate demand (stimulus package anyone?) and injections of government debt to stabilize prices and the banking industry. Sound familiar? These measures in the 1930s prolonged the recovery all the way to 1939. They will also delay a recovery today. One of the following three things is true about our leaders: they don’t know history, they think it will be different this time, or they care more about their political futures than the constituents they are sworn to serve. You decide. In any case, all three are good reasons to throw the bums out this November.
But, perhaps the biggest outrage from Congress’ behavior over the last 10 months is its abdication of Constitutional responsibility. It has allowed the Fed and Treasury chiefs to bailout Bear Stearns and AIG, nationalize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and potentially buy up vast sums of corporate debt – all without a Congressional vote. With passage of the bailout scheme, the Fed and Treasury are now authorized to invest capital into financial institutions and get ownership in return. Paulson and Bernanke have effectively become the nation’s stockbrokers. Additionally, under the bailout scheme, foreign banks doing business in the U.S. are eligible for Treasury payments, which means Uncle Sam will be borrowing more from foreigners to bail foreigners out. Not only has Congress violated the constitutional principle of separation of powers by giving authority both directly, and through acquiescence, to unelected officials in another branch of government to do what they are not constitutionally authorized to do, it has also condemned us and future generations of Americans to more debt and a lower standard of living.
This November 4th Americans all over the country will have an opportunity to vote for every representative in the House and at least a third of the Senate. With some rare exceptions, they should vote their members out of Congress and not replace them with a reasonable facsimile thereof from the other major party. Americans should vote for minor party candidates because America desperately needs a multiparty system like the ones we have fought for in other countries – most notably, Iraq. Only then can the will of the American people, not the narrow interests of Wall Street be heard. Only then can the best interests of our country be served; and only then can we have a representative legislative body that will be less apt to abdicate its sacred responsibilities to the people. Yes, Congress is a rotten, stinking corpse. With its job approval rating at 9 percent, maybe the time is right for giving it a proper burial.