Years ago, when I used to complain occasionally to my Mother that my young kids were driving my wife and me absolutely crazy, she used to just chuckle and say, "have some more!" Well, to borrow a metaphor from my late, great Mother, have the American people had enough of this Democratic-controlled Congress yet?
Since the Democrats took back Congress nearly 18 months ago, they have absolutely nothing to show for it. Notwithstanding the much-hyped increase in the minimum wage law, which has done nothing for anyone, this Congress has been a total disaster, in every sense of the word.
Investigation after investigation after investigation, all yielding zippo, zero, zilch! It's no wonder, then, that this Democratically-controlled Congress is most deserving of approval ratings in the teens that, by comparison, make President Bush's record low approval ratings look downright lofty.
On issue after issue, the Democratic leadership continues to demonstrate why they are not to be trusted with the levers of power. We all know that the Republicans had their fair share of problems when they were in power (because the media constantly reminded us), but getting things done wasn't one of them. While the Democrats rode to victory in 2006 on the issue of Republican corruption, they have demonstrated over and over that they have their own corruption issues to worry about.
In Iraq, the issue of our time, I had argued in previous commentary in The Appeal that Democrats have been too heavily invested in defeat. Fortunately, the surge, which they fought so hard against, has been quite successful in improving the overall security situation in Iraq, and ultimately pacifying the overall population. Were it not for the proxy war that Iran continues to wage against the U.S. in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere in the region, the situation in Iraq would be even better. I mean, does anyone seriously believe that the region would be better off with the U.S. on the sidelines, allowing a hostile Iran to run roughshod over its oil-rich Arab neighbors? What would oil cost then, people, if they blocked the Straits of Hormuz?
Instead of heading home in disastrous defeat, which the Dems worked so hard to make happen year after year, we now have the upper hand in Iraq - thanks to a determined president (some would say stubborn), a brilliant counter-insurgency strategy that has been flawlessly executed and, of course, significant buy-in from the Iraqis themselves. Al-Qaida has been badly damaged (globally, not just in Iraq), and the U.S. and its allies continue to be on the offensive. Victory is not only possible now, it's likely. On this key issue, President Bush continues to outmaneuver the Dems at every turn. The indisputable fact remains that the U.S. has not been attacked since 9/11. Someone has done something right, ya' think? We can safely say, however, that the lack of subsequent attacks following 9/11 hasn't been because of the Democrats' brilliant leadership on national security issues.
Another key issue is the economy, which has slowed considerably since the Democrats resumed power. Coincidence? Perhaps. The housing bubble was bound to pop, no doubt. The fact is, though, from 1994 through 2006, when Republicans controlled Congress, America experienced one of the longest and greatest economic booms in its history. Now, of course, the economy has slowed considerably, yet all the Democrats can do is whine that we are in a recession. In fact, we're not in a recession, have not been in one, and the chances of us falling into one anytime soon are becoming increasingly unlikely. I've got a great idea. How about some meaningful solutions that would help the economy? At the very least, less partisan whining and more action.
Historically, the Democrats have a nasty habit of blaming everyone else for every problem in the world, but maybe they should look inward. Instead of coming up with ideas and legislation that would actually help our economy, particularly the real estate industry and credit markets (the two sectors that are suffering the most), we get this poorly-conceived stimulus package from the Administration and Congress that is, at best, a costly short-term Band Aid that will likely do nothing to correct the underlying problems of our economy. How about lowering taxes, speeding up depreciation of capital equipment or some type of mortgage stimulation? Instead, we get nothing.
On energy, another big issue of our time that is contributing heavily to overall inflationary pressures and, thus, underlying economic problems, Democrats remain absolutely beholden to one of their core constituencies - the environmental groups. As long as these two groups continue to call the shots, however, nothing has been nor will be done to ease the energy crisis. Nonetheless, Democrats continue to complain about high energy costs (which they secretly want, in my opinion, in order to change consumption behaviors) but, surely, their lack of any action has contributed significantly to the problems. Granted, much of the run-up in energy prices is tied to global speculators and a weaker dollar, as well as strong demand from developing countries like China and India, but without question there are some things we could do now, or might have done previously, to ease the pressures we currently face. But of course, nothing.
No increase in domestic production, no new refineries in a generation, no nuclear, no clean coal (we're considered the Saudi Arabia of coal), nothing.
I'm sorry, stopping the minuscule flow of oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will not help one bit, and we're just beginning to see what the ethanol mandate has done to food commodities.
Oh, we do hear over and over that the oil companies are making outrageous profits and are gouging the consumers, and that they should be hit with a large windfall profits tax (which will most certainly be passed on to consumers). Of course, most people probably don't know that the federal government makes twice the return that oil companies make on a gallon of gasoline ($0.18/gal vs. $0.08/gal, respectively). Who's really doing the gouging here?
Moreover, according to historical price charts posted on VirginaGasPrices.com, since Democrats took power in January 2007, a gallon of gas has increased from $2.02 per gallon to $3.75, a whopping increase of 86 percent! Coincidence? Maybe. I seem to recall, though, that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted before the 2006 election that should the Democrats win, gas prices would come down. We're still waiting, Madam Speaker. Once again, nothing but empty rhetoric from the Democrats.
Unlike most Democrats and their enablers in the media, however, I will refrain from assigning blame to any one person or group for the current problems we face. Many are long-term and systemic, and will not be resolved quickly. On the other hand, it seems fair to point out how this Democrat Congress always likes to place blame for everything on this president and that, incredibly, they bear no responsibility for anything. Right.
Consider this, then. On the few key issues I have touched upon in this article, I would put that age-old question once again to my fellow voters, "Have you had enough of these congressional Democrats, yet"?
• Conrad Velin is the regional finance director for Sierra Nevada Media Group, which includes the Nevada Appeal. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.