PHIL WIELAND: Budget cooperation? That's crazy talk, Pete

2013-08-02T00:00:00Z PHIL WIELAND: Budget cooperation? That's crazy talk, PeteBy Phil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com

The almost three decades in Congress obviously are beginning to take a heavy mental toll on Pete Visclosky based on his comments this week.

The man's cheese has finally slipped off its cracker.

There he was, on national television in front of dozens of viewers (It was C-SPAN, after all) talking about the House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill and saying it was time for congressmen to start doing their jobs. Oh, the humanity!

He was referring mostly to the federal budget process, which has gone completely off the rails and plunged into the sequestration abyss. To demonstrate his point, Pete went so far off the deep end that he held up charts with — and I can't believe I'm saying this — facts.

I know. The man is insane, right? This is the age of congressmen demonstrating their expertise on vital issues like gay marriage and women's reproductive rights with lengthy, scholarly discussions using charts and diagrams totally devoid of anything approaching reality.

Among Pete's more salient points: Since 2007, Congress should have passed 84 individual appropriation bills for the operation of various departments, but so far it has passed nine. Instead of a real budget, Congress, when it acts at all, adopts continuing resolutions to keep the departments going.

Even then it waits until many months after the departments' spending authority expires before finally voting to let them hang on until the next budget deadline, by that time only a couple of months away. All the while, Congress refuses to deal with the real issues of Social Security, Medicare and investing in America's future.

"The fact is, in 1963, 67 percent of what we spent as a national government was an investment in the future, in our children's future," Pete said. "In fiscal year 2012, that was down to 26 percent.

"We do need a deal. We need to address those issues, and we need to address the issue of revenue to make sure we have enough to invest in those highways, classrooms and research institutes so we can have a full and vibrant economy going forward."

Citing the poor state of the nation's infrastructure, Pete said, "I have a bridge that was blown up in my district. That's not helping create jobs." Pete, what about the jobs of explosives dealers and demolitions people?

The GOP already is doing its job, as it sees it, working overtime to make sure President Obama's initiatives are never approved — at least until a Republican is president. What more does Pete expect?

"It is time to talk to each other. It is time to put everything on the table. It is time to invest in this country. And I would hope we do that sooner rather than later," Pete said.

See? Crazy talk.

The opinions are those of the writer. He can be reached at phil.wieland@nwi.com or (219) 548-4352.

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