A show horse and two work horses: A senatorial comparison

Again, this Congress is demonstrating why they are the least admired in the history of polling. Congress is risking a prolonged government shutdown and default on federal debt because they refuse to compromise and legislate.

The primary issue is defunding Obamacare. Republicans are united in their dislike for Obamacare, but party leadership and most Republicans recognize that attempting to defund is not a successful strategy. They conclude that the risk of government shutdown or default will harm their party more than any unlikely reward.

 

INTO THIS TURMOIL, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas has opportunistically leapt in front of the TV cameras. A Tea Party favorite, the controversial Cruz is expert at getting press coverage, but not much else. A national champion debater in college, his recent 21-hour fake filibuster is an example of talking much and accomplishing little.

A freshman senator in his first elective office, Cruz has spent more energy alienating his Republican colleagues than building the relationships necessary to actually get things done. His histrionics are designed to enhance his personal profile and expand his fundraising list more than defeating Obamacare.

Ted Cruz is a narcissistic show horse.

Contrast Cruz with Georgia’s two Republican senators, Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss. Both have worked for years in the difficult world of budgeting to improve America’s fiscal situation rather than their own profiles.

Georgia’s senior senator, Chambliss, continues to work behind the scenes to find a deficit solution. As the leader of the bipartisan Senate “Gang of Six” that developed a workable deficit reduction plan, Chambliss has built credibility and trust on both sides of the aisle. His efforts help to lay the groundwork for an eventual solution to the nation’s fiscal malfeasance.

 

CHAMBLISS ALSO had the courage to break with Americans for Tax Reform founder Grover Norquist and his appealing, yet unrealistic, mantra to not increase federal revenues. This upset many in the senator’s base, but it was the right thing to do.

Isakson is likewise attempting to find real solutions. He has sponsored and fought for a biennial budgeting bill to improve the federal budgeting process. The bill would allow Congress to pass a two-year budget, and in the non-budget year make minor budget corrections and focus on other congressional business.

I wrote a research paper at the National War College some years ago on the need for biennial budgeting. As a result, I am very appreciative of the importance of
the task the senator has undertaken to improve congressional budgeting.

Isakson was one of eight GOP senators conducting recent discussions with the White House to avoid government shutdown and default. Isakson’s stature and calm counsel made him a leader of the Republican group. The discussions have been suspended, but they were important in establishing respect and open communication with the White House.

These problems are not easily solved, but our Georgia senators are working to find solutions. The relationships they have nurtured and the ideas they have formulated will be helpful when our national politicians eventually realize they must work together to solve our fiscal imbalance. Georgia’s senators understand the reality of shared political power, and that real solutions require hard work and compromise.

 

THEIR RECORDS contrast mightily with those from the extremes of their party who would rather be bomb throwers than legislators.

Chambliss and Isakson provide excellent models for the new senator Georgia will elect in 2014 when Chambliss retires. Someone who can work across party lines, compromise and legislate to accomplish the people’s business is
what Georgia and the country need.

Our responsibility as citizens is to determine who that candidate is, and then elect and send that person to Washington. Congress doesn’t need another show horse.

 

(The writer is a retired U.S. Navy officer. He lives and writes in Savannah.)

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