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Haupt’s Take: The do nothing Congress continues to do nothing

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By William Haupt III | Haupt’s Take

“No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” (Gideon Tucker)

Harry Truman an ardent defender of Roosevelt’s New Deal programs entered the national limelight during World War II as the head of a Senate committee investigating defense spending. He was praised for uncovering graft and inefficiency in our war production industries. Upon FDR’s death he assumed the office of president and faced grave decisions in both domestic and foreign policy as the War escalated.

When Germany surrendered in 1945, Truman was unable to negotiate a “united Germany” and surrendered half of the liberated country to the Soviets. And this misgiving marked the beginning of a new war for the US: The Cold War! He disseminated to all of America,

“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”

Truman was aggressive on foreign policy. In 1945 he approved the use of atomic bombs against Japan; and this essentially ended the war. By 1947 he passed the Truman Doctrine that promised U.S. aid to countries that resisted Communist aggression. Truman followed this initiative with the Marshall Plan. This aided the restoration of Western Europe by providing them financial aide to rebuild their infrastructure.

But after North Korea invaded South Korea, he authorized deploying U.S. troops to Korea which proved costly. When he removed MacArthur from his command before he completed his mission, Americans became disenchanted with him and his credibility tumbled. They turned a deaf ear to his pleas for their support: “We are trying to prevent a third world war!”

By now Republicans had control of both houses for the 1st time in years. Truman fought adamantly to prevent the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act which restricted the powers that labor unions had acquired under FDR. By 1948 it appeared Truman would not win reelection.

But following a split in his party, he called Congress back into session to present his “Fair Deal” social reforms. When the Republicans blew him off, he labeled them the “do nothing Congress.” In retaliation, he started every campaign speech berating Congress which enabled him to beat Dewey handily.

“Truman’s ‘give em hell Harry’ speeches about Congress should be replayed each election.” (Alvin Fisher)

No president used Congress as a political punching bag better than Truman until Obama arrived in DC. Like Truman, Obama turned his reelection into a run against a “do nothing Congress,” and it worked. But, considering the hand they dealt their Congresses it’s not all that bad being called a “do nothing Congress.”

Who passed cap and trade and Obamacare? Both passed against the will of the people. Obamacare passed by one Senate vote, with the notorious Nebraska “Cornhusker Kickback” and the second “Louisiana Purchase.”  Like give em hell Harry he showed America,

“I‘ve become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions.” (Barack Obama)

Although Americans overwhelmingly disapproved of the job Obama’s Congress was doing, this low rating was due to his partisanship and lack of leadership. Obama’s “do nothing Congress” saved our Constitution from even more harm by him and the courts.

Although Congress is hired to pass laws if the president does not sign them who is at fault? Who can blame Congress?

“Our founders created the Executive Branch to implement and enforce laws written by Congress.” (Tom Rice)

Certainly past lawmakers have produced pioneering legislation. But during the Obama regime too many of his legislative proposals were self-serving. He tried vainly to convince voters what he was tendering would make “changes” to benefit them. But these seductive inducements were not close to reality, and Congress shot them down quicker than superman can stop a speeding bullet. But Obama’s “going nowhere bill proposals” helped him rack up points with his progressive allies and raised campaign cash because they were things they wanted to hear.

Yet Congress knew most of these asseverations were unconstitutional and he only proposed them to grab headlines. He’d then point his finger at Congress and blame them for his divide and conquer political style. His Congress knew well that

“Idealism loses to pragmatism when it comes to political pandering.” (Doug Strong)

Supporters of limited government argue the number of bills passed is not real productivity. Fiscal proponents applauded Congress for keeping the amount of legislation passed at a minimum. They knew with the GOP in charge of Congress they could detain the rapid growth of government under an unpredictable progressive leader.

Therefore at the time this was an asset rather than a liability. In Congress most key decisions are made by a handful of power players. With the GOP calling the shots, this minimized the damage of the progressive agenda which benefited the republic.

“It is not always what you do that matters; sometimes it’s what you do not do that matters most.” (Art Strass)

With the election of President Trump, Americans firmly believed we had all the players in place to make America great again. We had a non political pragmatic president and his party controlled both houses of Congress. American voters now felt confident they would finally see that “change they could believe in.”

But voters found out they had been fooled when Congress started criticizing almost every move he made. They learned pragmatists suffer if they are dealing with self-absorbed cowards who’d rather play hide and seek than expose themselves to a battle.

“Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.” (William Shakespeare)

And again the progressives are pointing a finger at this administration blaming them for doing nothing. So far they are right. We still have a “do nothing Congress.” Although Trump supporters remain respectful for Trump’s patriotic principals, they are under-impressed with his Congress and their inability to help our president move his mandates forward.

Instead of showing up each day and prolonging the agony of non-governing, many are wondering if they don’t stand for anything, they’ll fall for anything, and maybe Congress should be replaced every four years instead of the president. Considering what they’ve done it’s hard to argue with the truth when it stares you in the face.

“This republic was not established by cowards; and cowards will not preserve it.” (E. Davis)

When Obama was president, by virtue, “do-nothing” was doing a lot for America. But Obama now is just a bad chapter in history. And a Congress that “does nothing” when they have the opportunity to “do something” is a body of obstinate lawmakers.

Nobody expects perfection from the imperfect but not following the mandate of the voters who elected you is biting the hand that feeds you and getting away with it.

“To err is human. To blame someone else is politics.”  (Hubert H. Humphrey)

Will Rogers said, “If you ever injected truth into politics you have no politics.” Capitol Hill needs a leader who can lead. And the people gave them one. This was supposed to be the year Congress finally started acting like adults. Yet empty offices pock the executive branch, caused by aberrant Senate obstruction.

Now we’ve learned their promise to rid us of that devil ObamaScare, was just empty words. If the wheels don’t start turning soon on Capitol Hill, every day they stand idle it will cost President Trump to lose momentum and risk closing the political window for major changes to fix our republic.

“Scientists claim the Thread Snake has the smallest backbone of any creature on the planet. It makes one wonder if they also examined the members of Congress?” (Alice Crowe)

This article was written by a contributor from Franklin Center’s independent network of writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists. 


William Haupt III is a retired professional journalist, citizen legislator in California for 40 plus years, and author. He got his start working to approve prop 13.