Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Funday: Better Than Nothing

As we head into the weekend where most Americans will be springing forward with Daylight Saving Time, we've had one of those weeks where life makes it very clear: Some days - and some weeks - are longer than others, and certainly longer than they appear on the clock or calendar.

The massive federal budget cuts that are part of the sequester that began this week, and while the most noticable effect the cuts have had so far may have been to help thaw the political climate in DC,  many near our DC offices are already feeling a chill in the economic atmosphere of the region. Sadly, we already know of FAA employees, customs workers, Secret Service members, and teachers at military bases that have had their work hours and paychecks cut back, or have received notice of certain cutbacks coming soon.

Two groups of Washington, DC residents that may have only just begun noticing the federal budget cuts today - as they attempted to go home for the weekend - are the two groups of people most responsible for those cuts: Senators and Congresspersons.

While we chuckle at the unlikely mental image of certain members of Congress having to go through a TSA pat down today, there were a few positive outcomes from Washington this week.

President Obama and Vice President Biden signed and presented the new version of the Violence Against Women Act on Thursday, one of the few things that actually got accomplished on Capitol Hill this week. For that alone, we're grateful that Congress finally acted on something.

The Senate also confirmed John Brennan as CIA director, an outcome that Senator Rand Paul nominally attempted to stop with his thirteen hour filibuster. Still, for confirming another of President Obama's nominees - even after a massive, weeks-long legislative temper tantrum - we're willing to give Congress partial credit for accomplishing something.

In fact, even while Sen. Rand Paul's titular reason for his filibuster failed, and even though we - like Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post - think Sen. Paul is an "archconservative kook", the fact remains that Paul did something no one on any side has done for far too long: Get up and take credit for his beliefs on the floor of the U.S. Senate, loudly and publicly.

Sure, it's likely that what Paul did was a stunt, the kind of cable TV-friendly action that gins up political donations from core supporters, while angering publications like the Wall Street Journal. It's also true that - as we noted - Paul's action did not stop John Brennan from being confirmed.

What Paul's action did do, as Greg Sargent noted twice on Thursday, is remind Americans - and other members of the Senate in both parties - exactly what filibusters are supposed to look like. It also showed exactly what has been wrong with the way the Senate has been handling - or not handling - its business for far too long.

For that reason alone, we're willing to give Congress just a bit more credit today.

In total, if you add up the full and partial credits of things that Congress accomplished, we count the karmic equivalent of two things that they actually accomplished this week.

That's better than two groups of idiots getting nothing done - which is what Americans have become far more used to seeing on Capitol Hill.

So today, we'll give credit where credit is due. Congress worked, at least a little bit this week - which shouldn't be a complete surprise.

After all, even a broken analog clock works correctly twice a day.

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