Politics or policy?

Author: Allen West, U.S. Representative Florida District 22
Published On: Jan 20 2012 12:45:50 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 24 2012 03:06:28 PM EST
Allen West Voices

In November 2010, I was elected to represent the constituents of Florida’s 22nd Congressional District. Along with others of my Freshman class, I was sent to Capitol Hill on the wave of discontent sweeping our nation regarding the failure of those in our Nation’s Capital to adhere to our constitutional principles. I was sent to address our inability to rein in wasteful spending, spiraling debt and deficit, and provide the courage to tackle the critical reforms that must be made to protect and preserve Medicare and Social Security.

In January 2011, I again reaffirmed the oath I took 22 years ago as a young Second Lieutenant in the United States Army to support and defend our Constitution and this nation, and the standards I carried onto this battlefield of ideas were the same that I have always carried: conviction, character, integrity and a patriotic love for this country.

Unfortunately, there are not many in Washington, D.C. who carry those standards, as the events of the last few days of 2011 have demonstrated.

I stand with my fellow Americans who are disgusted and disappointed by the absurd political machinations we have just witnessed with the passage of this ludicrous two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, unemployment benefits and sustained growth rate (SGR) for Medicare providers.

How anyone can attempt to defend this decision as the proper and intelligent way to implement policy is beyond me. However, this decision exposes a far great systemic problem on Capitol Hill, and indeed America.

Along with the United States Senate’s inability to pass a budget in nearly 1,000 days -- forcing the passage of numerous Continuing Resolutions simply to keep the Federal Government sputtering along --  not to mention the refusal of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to consider the nearly 30 bills already passed by the House of Representatives designed to stimulate jobs and economic growth, this two-month extension, and the ridiculous dance carried out by the negotiators, exposes clearly the political dysfunction paralyzing our country.

Furthermore, this political dysfunction is representative of a societal dysfunction enhanced by manipulative demagoguery promoted by a complicit media.

The United States of America is at a critical crossroads in its young history. We are facing enormous challenges both within and without.

The Federal debt has swollen to over $15 trillion, with three straight years of trillion-dollar-plus deficits. Our government must borrow 42 cents of every dollar it spends. Without critical reforms, our Medicare and Social Security programs will be bankrupt within 15 years. Nearly 49 percent of Americans are on some form of government aid.

As we begin 2012, Iran continues on its stated course of acquiring nuclear weapons. Iraq is imploding before our eyes. Egypt is falling to radical Islamists. The future of North Korea is uncertain and unsettling.

Yet with all of this facing our nation, is the best we can offer our citizens a pathetic two-month extension of payroll tax reduction and unemployment benefits? The House of Representatives passed a one-year extension. We sent that bill to the Senate – after all, it is what President Obama and Majority Leader Reid asked for.

But clearly the President and Senate Majority Leader are not really interested in doing what is right for the country and we, the people. Americans are looking for certainty and confidence in the American economy and this limited extension delivers neither. The insane Kabuki dance will continue as another problem remains unresolved.

Our nation is desperately seeking leadership in our Nation's Capital, not crisis management, and these elected officials continue to demonstrate, again and again, that they are incapable of leading.

This two-month extension is just another instance of political antics triumphing over policy and principle. It again demonstrates that incompetence and ineptness clothed in election-cycle sound bites win over common sense and problem-solving.

Men and women of principle are becoming a dying breed in this Republic, sadly hastening the decline and eventual demise of these United States of America. I will not allow that to happen.