Thursday, April 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Super Sickening

Washington just keeps getting worse and the only thing "super" about that committee is just how super sickening the whole crowd is.

Super Sickening

It's difficult to define the levels of disgust I feel when thinking or writing about Washington.

The failed-as-expected "super committee" is only part of the pathetic pattern of what passes for national leadership at a time so many citizens, the 99 percent, if you will, continue to struggle amid economic woes not of their making.

New York Times columnist Gail Collins got it right last week when she suggested that the 9 percent of Americans who apparently approve of Congress must be hearing-impaired and believed when questioned by pollsters that they were asked, "Do you approve of Christmas?"

How ANYONE at this stage, except the 1 percent, approves of Congress is a mystery.

And can there be ANY doubt the "super committee's" inaction, which triggers automatic spending cuts, and the President's threat to veto any attempt to forestall that trigger, is anything other than partisan politics?

That committee was created to fail. The president's veto threat is made to one-up Congress, to suggest if THEY won't cut government spending, by God, I will because I'M a real leader.

Thank goodness he was able to get back from Hawaii and Australia and whereever the hell else he was -- and thank goodness we still have enough money to jet him and his entourage all over the world -- in time to display such courage.

But if you're sick of the sorry show of spinning wheels that Washington offers while the rest of us face loss of jobs, pensions and health benefits, watch 401Ks and other savings erode, see home values plummet and small businesses decline or die and look at a future of further recession, let me add some journalistic Tobasco sauce to your ire.

Patriot-News political reporter and columnist Robert Vickers today offers a reminder of how our members of Congress, nearly half of whom are millionaires, are coping with the economy.

He points out their premier health-care packages, including access to on-site Capitol physicians. He notes their pensions, in which they're vested after only 5 years, are better than regular federal workers and much better than in the private sector. He notes that taxpayers match their 401K contributions, that they've gotten automatic, annual pay raises since 1989 (foregone since 2009; what sacrifice to get by on $174,000 a-year) and that they each get annual office allowances of $1.4 million.

And he notes that while the "super committee" considered cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, it apparently "never intended" to target any cuts to its own entitlements.

That's what I call sickening. In fact, it's super sickening. GRRRR!

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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