(The usual disclaimer: The deal with the syndicator requires that this appears here a week after its newspaper release)
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FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, JULY 13, 2012
DO NOTHING, CONGRESS. JUST LEAVE
BY BOB FRANKEN
Now that the Republicans in the House of Representatives have had still another temper tantrum with their vote to repeal Obamacare, it’s time to suck it up and make a decision that would be wildly popular: Putting it simply, we should just shut down Congress till November.
Let’s face it, what little business the House and Senate must do easily can be deferred till after the election, since all they’re doing is campaigning on the public dime. So send the members home; ban them from D.C. -- not only to protect the nation, but for their own good. It’s hard to perceive of lower approval ratings than they already have, but each new day of their slapstick politicking threatens to push them all the way down to zero.
Their ridiculously juvenile behavior is expensive, and not just in terms of the scorn that is heaped on the legislative branch. It is also big money, for nothing but blatant electioneering. According to the Congressional Research Service, the House costs $24 million a week, the Senate about $17 million. That doesn’t include the Capitol police and other joint administrative outlays.
Of course, that’s chicken feed compared with the tens of billions of dollars the campaigns will spend by the time the races are over. Not only for president, but for the congressional seats for all those aspiring to their slice of the pampered life in Washington.
Imagine if they were able to campaign full time in person; we’d have a summer free of those seriously irritating TV ads that serve only two purposes: distortion and making tons of money for the distorter. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to clear away their airwave pollution?
The latest Washington Post poll is amazing, not only because it shows Messrs. Obama and Romney in a dead heat, but also for what it reveals about the voters: Almost all of them have made up their mind. Just 8 percent of the Romney supporters said they could change their minds, likewise just 4 percent of those who prefer Obama.
Obviously, the few not committed to either candidate will be key to the election. But instead of frittering away all those hundreds of millions of dollars on TV spots, why not just bribe the undecided ones? Of course, we can’t use the word “bribe,” so let's just use the words “campaign contributions”; that’s what we call the bribes that are paid to officeholders and candidates.
A break for Congress is not that radical a suggestion. The Supreme Court packs it in at the end of June after the justices are done with their legislative business (no, that was not a mistake), and they don’t come back till the “first Monday in October.” The country would be well-served if Congress stayed away until November. The “first Monday after Election Day” would be a good day to return. That would allow time for all the votes to be counted and for the results to be officially ratified on the Sunday gabfests.
Speaking of the news game shows, it’s only fair to point out that a new annual Gallup poll on our various national institutions shows America’s confidence in television news at just 21 percent -- in the “stinko” category, the same pathetic number as those who can stomach our banks. So far, though, they remain above the approval rating of Congress.
Unfortunately, it is that disdained body that will have to change the laws and find some effective way to rescue the United States from growing citizen disgust. We may as well wait till the election, so we know who the players are and presumably have a clearer idea of what and how the repairs the people want are to be made. Until then, it’s all just showboat bickering. Who needs that? So go home, members of Congress. Take a time out until you can learn to play nice.
(c) 2012 Bob Franken Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.