Friday, July 11, 2008

Congressional Disapproval

From the Desk of Joe Rollins

On Tuesday, the electronic publishing firm, Rasmussen Reports, released the results of a recent public opinion poll indicating that only 9% of voters give Congress good or excellent ratings. This is one of the worst Congressional approval ratings ever recorded.

The 9% approval rating is comprised of the 2% who rated Congress’s performance as excellent plus the 7% who gave it a good rating. To be fair, 36% of those polled said Congress is doing a fair job, a percentage that was excluded from the total approval rating. But, a whopping 52% of voters polled said that Congress is doing a poor job, which I can’t say totally surprises me. I am surprised, however, by the 2% excellent approval rating. Which rock do these people live under?

Congress seems unable to accomplish anything these days. For example, they’ve been completely unable to approve a single bill that would improve the U.S.’s current energy situation. This isn’t because there was a proposed bill on the table that was shot down – they just haven’t even gotten around to it yet. In fact, this Congress cannot even seem to bring any type of bill up for a vote, much less get it approved or disapproved.

There is no doubt that the high price of gasoline in the U.S. will put a dent in oil demand. Americans are already using less gasoline causing a decline in U.S. oil consumption. The Middle East will soon realize that the demand decline in the U.S. will have long-term negative implications for their own economies. At that point, supply and demand will definitely dictate lower prices.

However, Congress’s argument that new exploration and drilling wouldn’t lead to an immediate price reduction is absolutely incomprehensible. If it were announced tomorrow that Congress had approved off-shore oil exploration in Florida and California and opened up Alaska for exploration, the Middle East would immediately get the point. If the U.S. launched an aggressive exploration campaign, it would be clear to the rest of the world that we intend to solve the issue.

Yesterday, the Speaker of the House recommended to President Bush that he release oil from the strategic oil reserves to solve the short-term high gasoline price issues. That recommendation only illustrates Congress’s shallow mindset: while releasing oil from the reserves might help the price over the next 90 days, exploration would help for years into the future. With oil being one of the most important economic problems the U.S. is facing today, it’s baffling that our Congress can’t get a single bill about it (or any issue) on the floor for a vote.

The problem with our Congress doesn’t stop there. I read yesterday that Federal judge nominations have been delayed by 18 months. That’s not to say that any hearings have actually been held concerning particular judges; they simply haven’t even gotten to the hearing stage. It would be hard to complain if they actually voted for or against a particular person, but the fact that they cannot even bring a nominee to a hearing is sad.

Rasmussen also reported that 72% of voters believe that most Congress members are more interested in furthering their own political careers and only 14% believe they are genuinely interested in helping the public. Duh! Some people have a firm grasp on the obvious.

I’ve often said that we’d be much better off if Congress went on a summer vacation and never came back. In a few weeks, Congress will be off for the entire month of August to take a much needed vacation from their lack of effort. With the ineptitude of this particular Congress, it seems that I have finally gotten my wish.

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