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Saturday, August 05, 2006

The 109th Congress, just wrapping up for summer recess, definitely has been maligned. Quite rightly, I'd say. This year, they have sent only a handful of pieces of legislation to the president to sign: Renewing the Patriot Act, and a $70 billion dollar tax cut, both terribly detrimental to the people of the United States as a whole. Oh sure, the sent the stem cell bill to Dingus, but he vetoed it, and Congress didn't have the balls to override him on a bill that nearly three-fourths of Americans favor. In terms of accomplishments? Pretty much nothing.

But passing laws is hard work, what with all of the lobbyists, corporate sponsors, glad-handing and so forth. I mean doing the people's business really takes a chunk of the week, especially since your week as a Congressman is only about three days long.


Oh, you didn't know? The typical schedule for legislators is as follows:

Tuesday afternoon, working in the Capitol.
Wednesday, same deal.
Thursday, work in the morning, flying out of DC in the afternoon/evening.
Friday-Sunday, either in the home district, raising campaign money (or both), or doing fact-finding junkets to golf courses.
Monday, fly back to DC in the afternoon or evening.

There's your week, slightly less than three days writing legislation.

In the first two months of 2006, Congress spent 47 hours in session. Sixty-nine days possible, forty-seven hours worked. I've had plenty of jobs where I knocked those kind of hours out in four days, and these people, even allowing for normal weekends off, still managed to put in about just one hour a day at the office. Sign me up. Fortunately, they did see fit to take the time to vote themselves yet another fat pay hike up to $165,200 per year. Since 1997, their pay has risen $31,000. Increase in that time to the minimum wage? Zero. But then, if you work forty hours a week for $5.15 an hour, you gross a fat $10,712 per year. Again, that's before taxes, and benefits, not that you get benefits with a minimum wage job, stupid.

So what have they been doing? Why, protecting America, of course! Congress has been nose to the grindstone making sure that you don't put nose to same-sex toilet area thanks to the Marriage Protection Act. And if you're anything like me, you can barely sleep at night, fretting about the three or four individuals each year who bother to burn American flags. Congress is on it, via the Flag Desecration Act.

This 109th Congress, which can barely make it to work three days a week, feels that the work of the founding fathers of this country, is simply inadequate. The Constitution is incomplete without language that would actually reduce our rights. Fortunately, neither of these bills managed to pass, although the flag one only missed it by one vote.

So, everything must be in order for our legislators to have this kind of free time, right?

Yep, everything is cool.

Sure, nitpickers will bring up the war in Iraq, the Katrina mess still in New Orleans, energy prices, inflation, outsourcing, conflict in Lebanon, the destruction of the US military, global warming, a crumbling infrastructure, immigration, the deficit, election fraud, educational problems in US schools, 45 million Americans who lack health insurance, the cost of health care for people that actually do have insurance, overfilled prisons, and a host of other things.

Those people just don't understand. You may complain that the 109th Congress has not done anything.

But when I look at the men and women who make up this once-great legislative body, and the issues that they put forth?

The only thing worse than the 109th Congress working less, would be if they were working more.

posted at 7:55 PM

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