Billy Long is a good "Christian" gentleman from Springfield, Missouri, who spent many years selling real estate and auctioneering in the Ozarks, and for several years even hosted his own talk radio program from a Springfield AM station. And those were certainly good years for the affable Mr. Long. But last November Billy got himself a job that most auctioneers would kill for: he was elected to Congress. (The power, the glory, the money!)
Long followed the dastardly Ol' Roy Blunt into an office that has also provided princely incomes and cushy extra benefits to such rodents as Mel Hancock, Gene Taylor, Durward Hall, Dewey Short, and even the venerable O.K. Armstrong - all Republicans and all sadly lacking in intellectual curiosity or the ability to express independent thought. But hey, it is southwest Missouri, after all.
Social Security is a favorite topic of Congressman Long, and it is a matter of extreme concern to the many senior citizens in his district. There is a problem for the legislator, of course, when it comes to maintaining Social Security or adhering to the Republican orthodoxy of trying to completely stamp out the last vestiges of the New Deal. Long boasts proudly that he is a member of the Cut, Cap, and Balance brigade in Congress, which is focused on a balanced budget Amendment to the Constitution. This group of sleight-of-hand artists actually favors balancing the budget on the backs of the poor through cuts in and/or the elimination of the social safety net: reduced-cost health care available to all Americans, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. They proudly have no intention of allowing taxes on people making over a quarter of a million dollars to rise, allowing corporate taxes to rise - and many big U.S. corporations pay no taxes as it is, cutting war spending, or even just trying to shave some fat off of the Pentagon's budget. They are all about protecting privilege.
This year if the budget process ever does enter the realm of serious negotiation - that risky stratum where people actually begin to listen, Congressman Long and his friends will have to make some heavy duty decisions about political orthodoxy versus political savvy. Clearly there will come a point when these clowns will no longer be able to have their cake and eat it too.
So that is Billy Long. The reasons I chose to dedicate a little space to him in The Ramble are twofold.: he is my congressman, and just yesterday he chose to call attention to himself through a bizarre tweet on Twitter by artfully linking the demise of British blues singer Amy Winehouse with the debt ceiling "crisis." Long's tweet read:
"No one could reach #Amy Winehouse before it was too late. Can anyone reach Washington before it's too late? Both addicted - same fate???"
Tacky, Mr. Auctioneer, very tacky!
But to the man's credit, he did run a brief apology in today's Springfield News-Leader which said, in part, that Ms. Winehouse "was one of the few true artists to come along in a long time." I guess we know what's on Billy's iPod!
I think a bunch of Republican congressmen and senators are going to get a surprise when the people speak in 2012. The GOP's rage at having a black family in the White House has become so extreme that their elected officials are making truly crazy decisions. Real Americans - the ones who live and work around us - will not tolerate tinkering with Social Security, Medicare, or even basic healthcare. If the debt "crisis" is really a crisis, they would rather see the rich paying more - for a change. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both state that they are under-taxed and believe that they and their peers need to be paying more. And just what is wrong for suggesting that normal sales taxes be collected on the sales of private and corporate jets and luxury yachts?
Read the polls.
Heed the voice of the people!