Five bills to pass

So now what? Republicans have a majority in the House of Representatives, and a smaller majority in the Senate. The President still has a veto, and has made it clear that he’ll use it. It’s time for (drumroll) bi-partisan cooperation. This President has never, once, shown any interest in working with Republicans, on any issue ever, according to my Republican friends. He has also been so open to working with Republicans, he’s consistently in danger of violating utterly essential tenets of liberalism, according to my Democratic friends. To both sides, the truth of Obama’s bi-partisanship couldn’t be more obvious. Obama simply will not work with Republicans, ever, on anything. Simultaneously, he’s so intent on pushing for Grand Compromises that we wonder how anyone could ever have considered him progressive at all. He’s ‘my way or the highway!’ He’s also Mr. ‘meet you way way more than half-way.’ It’s like those hardcore conservatives who insist that he’s Bozo, clownishly inept at everything. And also a tyrant, horribly dangerous because he’s such an accomplished villain. Both/and, either/or.  All, and also none of the above.

Anyway, them dudes gotta work together, or ain’t nuttin’s gonna happen. So what are some actual genuine real national problems Republicans and Democrats could maybe work together and pass? Here are a few thoughts (and please feel free to correct me if I get any of these details wrong. I’m not a policy analyst-just an old retired college prof/playwright):

1) Highway bill. There’s about a 100 billion dollar gap between infrastructure needs nationally and the amount of money the gasoline/diesel tax raises for the Highway Trust fund. The gas tax is 24.4 cents a gallon, and hasn’t been raised since 1993. Raise the gasoline tax (which is comically low anyway, compared to most of the industrialized world. In Germany, for example, it’s, like, 8 bucks a gallon). There’s a Democratic bill that would raise the US tax by 15 cents a gallon, with a slighter higher hike for diesel. I don’t think that’s anywhere near enough, but it’s a start. Something needs to be done; the current approach is to toss an extra 10 billion or so into the pot every few months. A fix here should be possible.

2) Time to actually pass the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama was asked to hold it up for a few months, so that moderate Democratic red state US Senators could attack him for holding it up, distancing themselves from him, and demonstrating their ‘independence.’ Buncha cowards. Glad they lost; good riddance. Build the darn pipeline.

3) I rather like the Hire More Heroes bill, though. It’s a bill that would allow employers to not count veterans for purposes of the ACA employer mandate. Employers have to provide health care if they have 50 or more employees, but veterans already get VA benefits. Pass it; give our men and women in uniform a leg up in hiring.

4) It’s hard to imagine Republicans wanting to give this President more power, but suggested they might pass a fast-track trade authority agreement that would make it easier for him to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal. Car companies don’t like it, but it’s a good bill and one Republicans have traditionally supported.

5) George F. Will had a recent column outlining the various things Congress could try to do now. It was, for the most part, a list of suggestions for legislation that, if passed, Obama will simply veto. But a repeal of the medical devices tax wouldn’t be the end of the world, and might slake some of the Republicans’ thirst for anti-Obamacare measures. Expect that to pass, and expect Obama to sign it. Though I sort of hope he doesn’t.

I’d love to hear some other suggestions. Certainly, it would be nice for Congress to actually, you know, do its job. Maybe get their approval rating up to Paris Hilton levels. Wouldn’t that be just swell.



2 thoughts on “Five bills to pass

  1. juliathepoet

    I really can’t get behind Keystone. I would be hard pressed to understand why we need it, especially when we have sources of natural gas just waiting for the government to move on it. Moving to Alaska has given me a different outlook on energy policy, and I just don’t think Keystone and increasing the Koch’s tar sand oil production is something that the federal government should be doing. Instead of sending Alaska natural gas to Asia, why not try using it in the US?

    For things I hope to see, a national standard for victim compensation and compensation for wrongfully convicted and people who were acquitted of a crime they served time for.

    I would like to see more focus on accountability in handling rape cases in the military and in general. A bipartisan bill to help states clear their backlog of rape cases could be a great way to increase credibility with women voters, and give states a boost. There will be fewer prison beds needed for small time pot issues in many states. Why not work to make sure those beds are filled with rapists?

    More science funding and grants to universities that are doing research. If Republicans want to limit some of the research on climate science, there are still a lot of very valuable things we are not learning about because funding is so hard to come by.

    A know that a massive school funding initiative is unlikely, but like a Transportation bill, it could help actually stimulate growth, and help with the billions of dollars that are needed to pay for maintaining, or building, schools that are ready for the technology needs of today’s students.

    Student loan debt relief, especially if the Republicans can feel like it is their idea and they are getting credit for it, just might pass. Interviewing legislative candidates was an interesting experience. Most of the people that I interviewed were generally in favor of some forms of student debt relief, no matter which party they were from. I realize that state candidates can’t make the federal government move, and that federal legislators are much more likely to be bought and paid for, but if, (and I realize this is a huge if in many cases) Republicans would like to be seen as doing something for the middle class between now and 2016, I think college debt relief would be something that candidates at all levels could run on.

    Okay, I have homework that I need to do. If I think of something else brilliant while working on my Federal Indian Law paper, I will add another comment later. I didn’t address a congressional fix ANILCA, but it would be great for Alaska. We will have to wait for the votes to be finished counting to know if the Interior and North continue to break hard for Begich and against Parnell.


Leave a Reply