August 29, 2011 | Commentary on Libya
Is it just me, or does President Obama seem too disconnected these days?
The biggest earthquake on the East Coast in the last 100 years rocked Washington, D.C., last week. The shaking was felt as far north as Martha’s Vineyard, where the President was in the midst of a 10-day vacation. The same day, rebel forces in Libya stormed Muammar Gaddafi’s mansion and took control. The President has been very supportive of NATO-led aid to the Libyan rebels, yet he didn’t jet back to Washington for a press conference.
Even with a hurricane hitting the East Coast, the President seemed determined to play all three of Martha’s Vineyard’s golf courses rather than cutting his vacation short to come back to the White House.
Yes, he’s been regularly updated on current events, and like anyone, he’s entitled to a vacation. It’s just too bad he seems to lack the same determination to help reduce regulation and fix the economy as he does to play golf.
Consent of the Governed
Transparency is a concept that many in the Capitol have forgotten. Americans want to see members of Congress pass legislation that they support. They want to be part of the legislative process. The consent of the governed, after all, is an intrinsic part of our nation’s governing philosophy.
Many Americans feel that Congress is not operating effectively. House Speaker John Boehner (R.-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) need to take a hard look in the mirror and try to see what they are doing wrong. According to Gallup, only 13% of Americans support the job Congress is doing and 84% disapprove. This is the highest disapproval rating for Congress in Gallup’s history. This clearly shows the American people just don’t trust Congress.
The American people are also angry at President Obama. His approval rating is at 39%, with 53% disapproval. He is perceived by the American people as being uninterested in his job and not taking actions to get the government out of the way of the economy. The President seems to want to stimulate the growth of government more than he wants to allow our economy to operate free from government interference.
The American people don’t like Democrats, Republicans, the President, senators and representatives. They don’t like any of them, because Washington keeps passing legislation that they hate. They see an indifferent chief executive who apparently feels he can govern through speeches, not action.
Maybe Congress and the President can right the ship during negotiations on the "Super Committee," but don’t hold your breath.
Super Committee and Transparency
The congressional Super Committee on the budget needs transparency. It should operate with input from the American people.
The 12-member Super Committee was created as part of the legislation raising the debt ceiling. It has been charged with finding $1.5 trillion in savings over the next 10 years. Officially known as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, it was set up for the purpose of providing “recommendations and legislative language that will significantly improve the short-term and long-term fiscal imbalance of the federal government.”
To provide transparency and to allow the American people to participate in this very important process, a few actions should be taken by the Super Committee.
First, each committee in the House and Senate are mandated by law to transmit recommendations to the Super Committee by Oct. 14. All of those recommendations should be shared with the American public.
Next, there is no provision in the law mandating that the American people get to attend hearings or participate in the legislative process before the final report of the committee. At a minimum, a draft of the final proposal should be shared with the American public before the committee’s final vote in late November.
The hearings should be public. The law says that the Super Committee “may” hold hearings. The law does not force transparency on the members of the committee. Yet this legislative process needs to be open to the public to allow the American people to participate. Secret meetings and closed-door negotiations have no place in politics today.
Brian H. Darling is senior fellow for Government Studies at The Heritage Foundation.
First appeared in Human Events