Wilma Counts: Priorities for the 113th Congress

A pox on both houses — and a pox on both parties, too! I am sure I speak for thousands — no, millions — of Americans who are fervently hoping for (but skeptical of seeing) better results from this new Congress than we saw from their predecessors. But how could we not? The 112th Congress, worse than Truman’s famous “Do Nothing” Congress, passed fewer substantive bills than any other in the last century.Members of Congress — indeed, politicians in general — are fond of telling us what “the American people” (that amorphous entity) want. However, if current polls of public approval of Congress are any indication, they are dead wrong. Isn’t it time for real compromise? Compromise with a capital C?Why can’t we have a tax system that has people who reap the most from government and financial institutions paying a share of the costs commensurate with their harvest of the goodies?Why can’t we raise the age for Social Security benefits? When Social Security was established, the upper level of longevity for Americans was 65. Today, it is a decade higher. Why not raise the minimum age by a couple of years?Why can’t we get rid of fraud and waste in Medicare? Anecdotal evidence alone (everyone knows someone!) shows millions of dollars could be saved with closer monitoring. Yes, monitoring costs money, but probably not nearly what the system is overpaying now. For instance, how about your neighbor for whom you (as taxpayer) have paid years and years of “rent” on an oxygen machine that could have been purchased for a fraction of the cost?And, finally, immigration. Why can’t we welcome new citizens, but keep a closer watch on who is and is not entitled to health benefits, welfare and education in this country? Why is an “undocumented alien” (illegal) entitled to free medical care for himself (and his illegal family members!) and continuing SSI years after he fell from a ladder (working as an illegal) — and recovered long since? Why are persons given asylum for religious persecution in their native countries (Russia, for instance) entitled to bring in aged family members, get them on Social Security, receive a continuing stipend themselves for years and years, and have us pay for their children’s college education?Few people object to offering a helping hand, but most of us deeply resent freeloaders, regardless of which end of the economic spectrum we may find them.• For 25 years, Wilma Counts taught English and International Relations in Germany for the U.S. Department of Defense. She lives in Dayton and is an adjunct instructor at Western Nevada College.


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