NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

January 8, 2013

New Congress can't do worse than the last one

Oh, my. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says he is not going to talk to President Barack Obama one on one anymore.

The speaker represents my hometown in Ohio, and I can tell you that pouting and refusing to talk to each other are not the way we do things. True, there may be shouting. Yes, there is often weird logic employed. Often there is no consensus. But we enjoy our face-to-face confrontations. It’s the American way!

Weren’t you stunned when you heard that Boehner refused to take four phone calls from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a fellow Republican? Christie was furious that the speaker adjourned the 112th House without voting on money to help the suffering victims of Hurricane Sandy. Who would not want to be screamed at by the vociferous Christie?

The 113th Congress is not starting off well. Having just narrowly averted falling off the infamous “fiscal cliff,” in the next few months we will have even more showdowns. There is the battle over automatic spending cuts that will either be catastrophic or essential, depending on your point of view. There is the battle over whether the nation should pay the debts Congress already incurred. And then there is whether to shut down the entire government because something called a continuing resolution expires. It’s like “Days of Our Lives,” the never-ending soap opera.

There simply has to be common ground. But wait! There is. Here are some issues on which the deeply divided members of Congress certainly can agree:

Boehner has the worst job in Washington. People should stop criticizing him for crying in public. Or swearing at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

We have crossed a threshold. Washington used to believe that a billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you have real money. Today it’s a trillion here and a trillion there and pretty soon you have another year’s deficit.

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