Enough tricks: Cut the frivolities and concentrate on sound government

If you could wave a magic wand and make Congress do something productive, would you? Of course you would.

 

But apparently at least one congressman is trying to take that sentiment literally.

Which, in turn, is making government even more of a laughingstock.

Pete Sessions is a representative from Texas. I remember him from the 1990s when Bill Clinton was president. Back then, Sessions campaigned for Congress across Texas while hauling a load of horse manure – claiming Clinton’s health care plan stunk even worse.

Sublime.

 

ON MARCH 14, Sessions introduced a House resolution that would officially recognize magic as a “rare and valuable art form and national treasure.”

Well, thank goodness.

This could mean only one thing: Congress has squared away every controversial issue surrounding the economy, immigration, health care, the entitlement crisis, race relations, terrorism, education, national security, poverty, the environment and foreign trade.

Having solved all those other problems, the folks in the House have plenty of time to craft, consider and approve a resolution about pulling rabbits out of hats.

The Society of American Magicians apparently has been pushing Congress to recognize magic as an art form since the 1960s. You’d think the society could just work together, say one big “abracadabra” and just make it happen themselves without even bothering Congress.

Please don’t consider me a wet blanket. I like magic. My kids like magic. We saw a magician on TV just a few weeks ago cram an entire live guinea pig into his mouth and swallow it. Great trick. Also, not a bad appetite suppressant.

But I don’t associate sound government with eating a domesticated rodent in one gulp. Likely, neither do the voters in north Dallas who re-elected Pete Sessions the last time around.

 

THOSE VOTERS probably are among the vast majority of Americans who, when surveyed, routinely disapprove of Congress’ performance. A Monmouth University poll conducted earlier this month found 22 percent of Americans liked what Congress was doing. These days that number is excellent. A Gallup poll asking the same question at about the same time found just 13 percent
of Americans approved of Congress.

I doubt Congress will win more hearts and minds by passing resolutions touting the artistic merit of card tricks.

On Thursday, we published a letter from Sam Arrington, one of our loyal readers down in Louisville. It was the umpteenth letter we received (I think my math is correct) that has complained about Congress in general. Mr. Arrington also complained about congressional retirement benefits in particular.

“The longer they stay in Washington, the more corrupt they become,” he wrote. “I want a referendum to limit time in service to eight years, and to take their lifetime salaries and other perks away. Maybe, just maybe, then they would actually manage Social Security.”

The “lifetime salary” he referred to is the pension retired Congress members get. As of October 2014, there were 601 such retirees. Depending on which of two pension plans they chose, the retirees drew an average of either $41,652 or $72,660 a year.

Now there’s a trick – presto! Your tax dollars disappear from your paycheck and reappear in a retired congressman’s pocket.

 

I REALIZE THESE superficial resolutions aren’t the only things Congress occupies itself with. But – like a well-executed magic trick – it’s the optics of the situation that make it so incredible. Do our six-figure-salary lawmakers really need these fun little legislative diversions? Does the House need to render an official government opinion about sawing a lady in half?

Probably the last thought on a voter’s mind is, “Gosh, I hope my congressman is up in Washington having fun.”

When there are legions of Americans right now struggling to make ends meet, you know what? I don’t care whether Congress
considers magic an art form.

Here’s a neat trick for Congress – getting back to work.

 

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