More Stunning Republican Incompetence
by Jonathan Singer, Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 09:12:32 AM EST
As if any more proof that the Republicans are by there nature unable to govern Congress efficiently or effectively, news comes today indicating that the pension bill crafted by the GOP Congress over the past year would actually do more harm to the private pension system than good. And this comes from a government report. Mary Williams Walsh has the story for The New York Times.
With a strong directive from the Bush administration, Congress set out more than a year ago to fashion legislation that would protect America's private pension system, tightening the rules to make sure companies set aside enough money to make good on their promises to employees.
Then the political horse-trading began, with lawmakers, companies and lobbyists, representing everything from big Wall Street firms to tiny rural electric cooperatives, weighing in on the particulars of the Bush administration's blueprint.
In the end, lawmakers modified many of the proposed rules, allowing companies more time to cover pension shortfalls, to make more forgiving estimates about how much they will owe workers in the future, and even sometimes to assume that their workers will die younger than the rest of the population.
On top of those changes, companies also persuaded lawmakers to add dozens of specific measures, including a multibillion-dollar escape clause for the nation's airlines and a special exemption for the makers of Smithfield Farms hams.
As a result, the bill now being completed in a House-Senate conference committee, rather than strengthening the pension system, would actually weaken it, according to a little-noticed analysis by the government's pension agency. The agency's report projects that the House and Senate bills would lower corporate contributions to the already underfinanced pension system by $140 billion to $160 billion in the next three years. [emphasis added]
Say what you will about Republican ideology -- right or wrong, there are many Americans who genuinely believe in the ideology of the modern GOP -- but it's becoming ever more clear that the Republican Party is simply unfit to govern.
From the Medicare Part D program, which costs the government nearly twice what was anticipated while doing little to stem the problem of rising prescription drug costs, to the No Child Left Behind law, which has done little to improve America's public schools while still spending billions of federal dollars, the Republican Congress has shown time and time again that it is unable to craft effective legislation.
To be fair to Congressional Republicans, President Bush has been just as bad, if not worse, failing to successfully implement the aforementioned programs. And of course, one cannot overlook his poor handling of the situation in Iraq, from trumped up charges against Saddam Hussein in the pre-war stages to lack of pre-war planning.
If the American people want to restore some semblance of competance to government in Washington, they really only have one choice: electing Democratic majorities to the House and Senate in November and sending a Democrat to the White House in 2008. Republican incompetence might not be the sexiest issue this year, especially with the base, but for unaffiliated voters and voters only loosely affiliated with the Republican Party, the issue of competence could be one to initiate a partisan shift that would last not just one election, but many elections to come. And isn't that what the Democrats are really after, systematic change rather than short-term victory?