I was driving home from the market and listening to NPR whenm I heard them talk about the Air Controllers Bill that was stalled. Evidently, it is no longer stalled, but it had been stalled because one Senator – man, I even hate honoring that group by capitalizing the name – had put one of those arbitrary Senate holds on the bill. One guy holding everything up. It was Tom Coburn, the Senator from Oklahoma, also known as Dr. – he is a MD – No.
I immediately became pissed off at Coburn, Oklahoma, the Republicans, and the slow driver three cars ahead of me. Then I heard the reason he had placed the hold. The Air Controllers Bill also had some Federal Highway stuff tacked on that include mandatory highway beautification. Coburn didn’t think the highway beautification should be mandatory, he thought that each state should be allowed to divert those funds to other highway projects. Like bridge repair.
I think he is right and the whole thing seems to be a distillation of much of what is wrong with government and much of why people are pissed.
Working backward, I don’t think Congress should bundle disparate items together. When A and B,B=,B’,BB-, are all tacked together, it means that somebody who doesn’t like A’ – let’s say mandatory highway beatification – but doesn’t want to vote against B – say keeping the airlines flying – has almost no choice but to vote for both. There may be political and tactical reasons for it, but it probably means somebody is getting fucked and will be pissed.
That said, no one Senator should be able to hold things up. I know the Senate was conceived as a way to hold things up – that should be read as stabilize, or something – but that has been perverted. Now the Senate has made rules so that one person can hold up everything. That is not serving democracy, that is serving some warped idea of Senatorial congeniality.
That said, the Federal Government shouldn’t be telling the states that they have to beautify a highway anyway. If Mississippi or Georgia want to fix a bridge rather than landscape, I might not agree but I shouldn’t have a say through the Federal Government. It pisses people off. I want to rush in here and say that I am not a states rights kind of guy: I think that the Feds should protect all citizens and the rights of all citizens of the United States no matter where they live. But making sure that somebody has the right to vote, or eat at a lunch counter, or get married is not the same as you must landscape.
And lastly, and most importantly, the federal Government should pay for highways that are truly in the national interest but not – for example – highway 280 by my house 0r even, as far as I am concerned Highway 5 (from the Bay Area to L. A.). This Federal over-reaching bullshit gives opponents a nose under the tent to say the Feds should butt out of everything. I have no idea who put the beautification clause – item, chapter, whatever – in the bill but I suspect it was the Democrats – I really hope not – and that is too bad.