Don Gale: Congress goes from ‘Do-nothing’ to ‘Nothing doing!’

Harry Truman’s ‘Do-nothing Congress’ was a whirlwind of activity compared to today’s.

(Senate Television via AP) In this image from video, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaks in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Feb. 12, 2021.

President Harry Truman called lawmakers of his time the “Do-nothing Congress.” But the Congress of Truman’s time was a whirlwind of activity compared to the current chair-sitters.

First, earlier Congresses spent more than two or three days a week in their offices. Second, they had a fraction of today’s staff functionaries to lean on. Third, the word “filibuster” required actual yak-yak and not simply pretending. Fourth, the Senate was not throttled by a minority leader who refuses to allow “the world’s greatest deliberative body” to deliberate.

Minority leader Mitch McConnell says “No” to discussion, “No” to American traditions, “No” to democracy. He transforms “Do nothing” into “Nothing doing!”

McConnell’s senatorial dictatorship endangers American democracy. It’s time to remove the clamps, act like Americans, and debate issues confronting the nation.

Immigration policy desperately needs attention. It hasn’t been updated in decades. Some neighbors came here as infants, grew up here, went to school here, had children of their own. But the status of those good folks is in limbo. Some of our best workers were brought here to rescue our economy, but we do nothing to rescue them from insecurity.

Virtually every business in the land displays help wanted signs, but we refuse to augment our own diminishing supply of young workers by importing badly needed help. Congress should be talking seriously about modernizing immigration laws.

The same is true for health care. Too many citizens have little or no access to the marvels of modern medicine. Many of those medical marvels were created right here in America, but deserving neighbors can’t use them because of outdated record-keeping and bureaucratic foot-dragging. Socialized medicine is not the answer. It stifles creativity. But Congress should be talking about workable American solutions.

Anti-trust laws were written long before too-big banks created our most recent recession and before giant retailers destroyed small town personality, drove out local retailers, eliminated the creativity and innovation that comes with competition and cheapened the quality of consumer goods.

The permitted dominance of gigantic corporations also helped increase the income gap between middle class Americans and obscenely wealthy elitists, many of whom contribute little to economic progress. It’s time for Congress to openly debate remedies for such distortions of free enterprise.

Regulations guaranteeing reliable and diverse sources for news and information were created almost a century ago. Some of those important rules have been weakened or modified. And, to make matters worse, newer sources of false information such as cable, satellites, streaming, the internet and other new technologies have no regulatory oversight at all.

A Congress that cares about the good of the nation and the good of its people more than it cares about their own egos would take another look at protecting information sources from charlatans.

Other issues need attention. Congress should debate seriously what to do about the hackers who corrupt vital computers. Data technology is too important to be left at the mercy of invading data scramblers or adolescent tech criminals. The same is true for telephone hooligans. The marvel of modern telephone conversation is too important to allow free reign for distant puppets, robotic scammers and irresponsible intruders. Congress should at least talk about the problems. The dysfunctional postal service also needs attention.

Political campaigns were captured by elitists when the Supreme Court irresponsibly decided that corporations are people. Utter nonsense! Corporations are economic fictions created by humans. They do not live, breathe, reproduce or vote.

Congress should consider correcting the court’s mistake. Yes, chances are slim that greedy representatives might replace make-believe corporate campaign participants with living, breathing women and men, but the issue should still find a place on the congressional agenda.

The list goes on. But the “Nothing doing” Congress goes silent. This great nation and its people deserve better.

Don Gale.

Don Gale was too young to write about the “Do-nothing” Congress, but he covered other congressional lunacies. Ultimately, the people are in control. He’s confident they will soon reject the “Nothing doing” crowd.