April 17, 2014

Liberally Speaking

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GOP pledge is nothing new

Sept. 30, 2010

By Steve Mount

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

In 1994, with Bill Clinton two years into his first term as president, Republicans presented a Contract with America to the electorate. The Contract was a list of legislative priorities that the Republicans promised to turn into bills within the first 100 days of the 104th Congress. It was a ploy that played to the angers and frustrations of the American people at the time.

The ploy worked. The House of Representatives had a Republican majority for the first time in 40 years. Though many of the bills based on the Contract failed to become law either because of presidential veto or because the Senate failed to pass them, the Republican majority in the House lasted from the 104th Congress through to the 109th. The Democrats were not able to wrest control until the 110th Congress, almost four years ago, in January 2007.

The legacy of that Republican control includes government shutdowns, tax cuts for the richest Americans, authorization of an unnecessary war and the worst recession in decades.

More recently, Republicans have released their Pledge to America. The GOP is pledging to right all the wrongs that they see in American government and society, a good and noble sentiment, but forgetting that it was they who were the root cause of many of these woes.

President Obama came to office promising change, change that many of us — Democrats, Republicans and independents — were eager for. It is change that we have not seen in many cases, change that we still wait for. But even as we await more of the president’s promises to come to fruition, we cannot allow ourselves to be blinded to the fact that change has, indeed, already happened.

To me, the Pledge to America is more about undoing the good that has already been done and thwarting any possibility for more good to be done in the next two years.

Just last week, some of the most important provisions of the health care bill came into effect:

• Children can no longer be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition;

• Health care policies must cover children up to age 26;

• Health care policies may no longer include lifetime limits on coverage.

These features and protections are all important and have real impact on people’s lives today. And if Republicans had had their way six months ago, none of these provisions would have taken effect. Because of the staggered implementation of the health care bill, even more changes will be taking effect over the next few years.

Another major accomplishment of the president and his congressional allies is the end of combat operations in Iraq. This war, the wrong war to have spent blood and treasure on, was authorized by a Republican Congress. Ending it was one of Obama’s top priorities, and though it took two years, he was able to accomplish the goal without putting undue risk on our troops or the Iraqi people.

Though Republicans use it as a selling point for their own agenda, calling it a “government take-over,” the government’s support for General Motors and Chrysler saved an American industry and all the jobs that go with it.

According to Recovery.gov, the Recovery Act, put in place by the Democratic Congress, has brought more than $250 million to Vermont through June 30, and another $500 million has been awarded to Vermont. This money represents real jobs, held by your neighbors.

The Republican leadership would have you forget about all of these accomplishments. Is there more to be done? Of course there is, but the way to get things done is not to take a step backwards, back to Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

As he introduced the latest Republican ploy, the Pledge to America, House Minority Leader John Boehner said that if they are placed in the majority, the American people can expect Republicans to “not be any different than we have been.” I don’t think that America can afford, nor stomach, “not different” from the Republicans, because they have been combative, obstructive and contrary ever since the new Congress was sworn in.

What we need is a new Republican party that is willing to work with Democrats to come up with solutions, not create more problems. In lieu of that seeming pipe dream, our best bet is to maintain the Democratic majorities in Congress, and for all Democrats to work diligently toward that goal.

Steve Mount has been a Williston resident since 1996. He is a software engineer at GE Healthcare and is devoted to his family, his country and his Constitution. You can reach Steve at [email protected] or read his blog at http://saltyrain.com/ls.

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