by Photo: http://www.house.gov. Captions: Rick Wise
Congress -- once described by Mark Twain as "America's only distinctly native criminal class" -- has finally done it. Or, more exactly, they have failed to do it. Congress has refused to fund the federal government. Or, still more exactly, the House GOP has refused to fund the federal government. Not for a year, mind you, but for six weeks. They can't even fund the government for six weeks.
Make no mistake: this is not a "both sides do it" situation. The tea party wing of the House Republican caucus is solely responsible for the government shutdown that resulted from Congress's refusal to fund the government.
In their zeal to gain electoral favor, these idealogues have abandoned any pretense of even trying to do their Constitutionally-mandated jobs. The same people that prattle on ad nauseam about personal responsibility have abdicated their own responsibility to the people and the Constitution.
It's time for the American people to address this situation with hard wood.
Many in the House GOP Caucus fancy themselves as business people. They admire business success. They covet corporate cash. They fawn over corporate executives. They bow to corporate interests, They say they want to run government like a business.
Okay, let's run with that. Here's a business problem for you, ladies and gentlemen of the Congress. Imagine that you're a manager and your newly-hired employee is just not doing the job -- a job he claims he wanted and is exceedingly well-paid to do, by the way. Not only that, he's standing in the way of everybody else doing their jobs.
He criticizes and his subverts his colleagues' efforts. He attacks them personally, as though he can make himself taller by cutting off other people's legs. His very presence has become counterproductive to the success of the enterprise. He impedes team effectiveness to the point where customer complaints have reached an all-time high.
You're his manager. What do you do?
I think you would do what I would do: you would fire the employee immediately and have security escort him down to the street. He's out: no excuses, no second or third chances, no ceremony, no severance. Out. GTFO.
Unfortunately, the Constitution does not give the American people that option where Congress is concerned.
Maybe it's time to change chat. I think we need a 28th Amendment to the Constitution: the "Congressional Responsibility Amendment." Here's what it might look like:
Proposed AMENDMENT XXVIII -- Congressional Responsibility Amendment
Section 1. Any Congress that fails to adopt an annual budget for the Government of the United States on or before the first day of any fiscal year shall be adjourned and dismissed with prejudice as of the first day of the new fiscal year. Its Members shall be disqualified from serving in any elected federal office thereafter.
Comment: Take responsibility. Do or die. Sink or swim. Fish or cut bait. If Congress is unwilling or unable to perform one of its most basic and important functions -- financing the operations of the federal government -- then it has to go. Get out. Get out and make room for people who are willing and able to carry out their Constitutionally-mandated duties and responsibilities.
This Section would replace the entire Congress -- all 535 Members. Even the good guys would be dismissed. But it's a hard fact of life: there are times when everyone must suffer for the actions of a few. When the captain screws up and the ship sinks, all the sailors drown -- even the good ones.
This Section would also ban Members of the dismissed Congress from ever holding an elected federal office again. You don't knowingly hire people who have a track record of non-performance, do you?
Section 1 also requires a full-year budget for each new fiscal year -- no more "Continuing Resolutions." If a mid-year initiative requires funding, then the budget may be supplemented or altered to reflect that. But the business of creating multiple six-week budgets while Congress critters play gotcha games with each other is ridiculous and the practice must end.