Friday, March 6, 2015

Congress Finally Does Something Positive

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The Republican basic plan of governance has traditionally been, at least during the Obama years, five-fold:  protect Wall Street and corporate America, do the bidding of the gun lobby, pass legislation to keep minorities and the poor in their places, keep women from controlling their own bodies, and enshrine fundamentalist religious bigotry into the law of the land.  Lately though, after seizing complete control of Congress and moving into the big corner offices, their list of political targets appears to be growing - and we all seem destined to suffer for years over the low voter turnout of 2014.

The new Congress still wants to gut Obamacare, and after more than four years of whining, the GOP has yet to come up with a single alternative plan.  One would almost be forced to conclude that the Republican lawmakers really don't want any affordable or sensible health care options for their constituents.

The Federal Communications Commission, after record direct lobbying on the part of the public, recently passed a net neutrality measure intended to keep the internet open to individuals on the same basis as it is open to the large telecom companies.  Republicans now have a goal of trying to kill net neutrality because their important constituents, the big telecom companies, angrily oppose it.  When big money talks, Republicans shut up and listen.

There is also a GOP movement afoot to create legislation that would hobble the President's foreign policy initiatives, particularly with regard to Iran.   That enthusiasm was whomped up after Speaker Boehner invited a foreign leader to address Congress in an effort to undercut the President.  Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech proved to be as much of a national embarrassment for Israel as it was for the United States, but it was effective in keeping Congress from doing much harm for a couple of days.

This week there was one bit of progressive movement in Congress.  Amtrak, the national passenger rail system was funded for another four years.  Republicans, at least the ones whose districts aren't directly served by Amtrak, tend to hate it almost as much as they do National Public Radio.    They seem to see both as liberal programs siphoning off money that could be going to America's big corporations or their own private campaign coffers.    The Amtrak funding bill passed 316-101, with all 101 negative votes being cast by Republicans.

I have traveled by Amtrak several times, and find it a most relaxing way to see the country.  This summer I am planning a very long jaunt over the rails from Kansas City to Salem, Oregon.  I am glad that Congress had the good sense to continue funding this necessary alternative to air travel.  Now, if we could just get more states interested in high-speed rail - something else that the GOP opposes.

Thank you, Congress, for saying "yes" to Amtrak.  Doesn't it feel good to do something positive for a change!

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