D.C. rules guarantee gridlock
One of the frustrating reasons behind the gridlock in Washington, D.C., is the Senate rule that effectively requires 60 of the 100 senators to pass a bill. Previously, senators had to filibuster to raise the necessary majority from 51 percent to 60 percent; now all they have to do is threaten a filibuster.
The latest victim – supported by 52 senators – was establishing voluntary standards for the computers that run the nation’s vital infrastructure. Government officials warn that the next act of terrorism won’t involve hijacking jets and flying them into buildings but might be a cyberattack. So the majority of senators wanted optional standards for securing computers that run power grids, dams, railroads and other critical functions.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce argued that such optional standards would be just too much work for corporations, and Sen. John McCain took up their cause, leading the opposition and invoking the silent filibuster. When a vote was taken to end the filibuster, it was favored 52-46 – eight votes short of the necessary super majority.
Though it’s conceivable the bill could eventually move forward, it won’t happen in the next five weeks because Congress is adjourning for – you guessed it – the biannual campaign recess, when representatives and senators fight for re-election.
Another temporary casualty is the overdue farm bill. Another is a decision on whether to continue or change the tax cuts scheduled to expire at year’s end. The House and Senate did both adopt different bills on the tax cuts, which every member of Congress knew would not be accepted by the other body.
Straight shot to Purdue is now in sight
Any parent who has made the frequent trek from northeast Indiana to Purdue University in West Lafayette can appreciate this news: The last construction contract for the Hoosier Heartland highway between Fort Wayne and Lafayette has been awarded.
Primco Inc. of Fort Wayne won the $24.7 million contract to build the last section of Indiana 25, which links with U.S. 24 in Logansport to create a four-lane, limited access, divided highway between Fort Wayne and Lafayette.
The 99-mile finished highway replaces a route on its western end that was built about 1930. With narrow lanes, sharp curves and hills winding parallel to the Wabash River valley, the road also carries a significant amount of truck and farm traffic, making it a particularly dangerous route but also the most direct route from northeast Indiana to the Purdue campus.
The first 13 miles of the new Indiana 25 open this fall, between Interstate 65 and U.S. 421 in Delphi. The entire project should be finished by the end of next year. The new highway will also connect to the Fort to Port project, the upgraded U.S. 24 route linking Fort Wayne and Toledo.
Compromise comes in for more abuse
Former Hoosier Congressman Chris Chocola, now president of the Club For Growth, agrees with GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock: Compromise is evil.
Congress needs fewer moderates’ and more people willing to adhere to principle and work to fix our fiscal mess, Chocola wrote in the New York Daily News. The idea of working toward the center of the political spectrum is common myth and Compromise is what got us into this mess, he added.
Actually, what got the nation into its fiscal mess is spending more money than it takes in, something liberals have exacerbated through refusals to limit spending and something conservatives such as Chocola promote by refusing to increase revenues. Moderates – those people Chocola loathes – seem to understand it’s going to take a combination of spending cuts and selective tax increases to someday balance the budget.
As far as compromise goes, when Republican President George H.W. Bush and a Democratic Congress agreed to raise some taxes in exchange for spending cuts, it helped spark an economic boom that lasted through the 1990s and even resulted in a budget surplus.