Americans did not need the European economic crisis to realize that their own house was in disarray.
A review of recent polls paints a picture among Americans of economic worry coupled with a broad base support for common sense solutions. Americans have little confidence that their Congress is capable of bringing these solutions to life through bipartisanship or creative compromise. The representatives elected to implement these programs are polarized, paid by lobbyists, and more interested in reelection than solving the country’s problems.
It is time for the American people to come up with a plan to move Congress forward and shake them up. Term limits have been proposed but will not happen in the short run. I suggest that the American people threaten Congress with a party agnostic revolution. I implore them to sign on to an agreement (below) to simply not vote for any incumbent unless Congress acts in a major way by the November elections to make sense solutions to our fiscal and unemployment crisis.
The economy is the single most important issue to 80% of Americans. The majority believes that the deficit must be controlled and that jobs must be created.
By more than a 2:1 margin Americans support infrastructure spending and job training bills to stimulate employment. At the same time 94% believe overall government spending must be decreased and over 66% believe the wealthy need to be taxed more to bring down the deficit.
To state it simply, the American people understand the gravity of the situation and understand that a solution lies in weaving together a set of programs that take pieces from each side of the political spectrum.
This is the common sense approach. It couples short term spending on job creation with long term mandates for spending cuts and revenue increases. The American people understand that this represents a compromise and that compromises include elements that they don’t like. However they prefer compromise to paralysis. In a Pew poll, 67% indicate that they would rather the bipartisan committee on deficit reduction agrees to a compromise plan even if it contains elements that they disagree with. Only 27% would rather that a compromise plan be avoided.
Americans want it; most economists support it, yet Congress cannot get it done. I suspect that the majority of congressmen if polled anonymously would agree with the American people. However, when acting as a group they will not find a common sense solution. The reason may be a stark individual calculation. They believe they experience more risk in voting for compromise than avoiding one. History suggests that they may be right. Incumbents are reelected approximately 85-90% of the time, so why rock the boat. A compromise, by definition, will include elements that will upset some of their constituents. Upsetting constituents is a risk to avoid unless they fear a real change in voting behavior.
There are polls that suggest legislators might have something to worry about. Dissatisfaction with Congress is at an all time high. Only 13% of Americans approve of the job they are doing. Fully 54% of Americans say that if given a chance they would replace the entire Congress including their own representatives.
One would think that this would put some fear into the hearts of Congress and get them to act in concert with the wishes of the people. Unfortunately they realize that these abysmal ratings are not very different than in the past. They understand that history repeats itself and that when Americans go to the polls they will be guilty of the same behavior as that of Congress. The American voter will put his own interest above that of the country. Unless something changes and despite their great claim of dissatisfaction, the American voter will reward the Congress for inaction and reelect their local representatives along political party lines.
Congress must fear the voter’s wrath should they remain paralyzed, more than they fear controversy. If enough people promise to vote against incumbents irrespective of party alliance they may act.
Sign my petition that implores Congress to use its large scale segregation as a catalyst for a great debate and grand compromise and promises a great penalty for inaction. If a significant compromise on fiscal policy is not reached by November 2012 let’s promise Congress we will not vote for any incumbents.
Photo Credit: Glyn Lowe Photos