A Message For Congress

Average wealth of Members of Congress

Average wealth of Members of the United States Senate and Members of the House of Representatives. Graph and data credit: Center for Responsive Politics

“I, (name of Member), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God” (5 U.S.C. §3331).

Who is represented?

With all due respect to the Honorable Members of the House of Representatives and to the Honorable Senators of the United States of America, your oath of office does not include a caveat of supporting, defending, bearing faith and allegiance to a particular political party, but to the Constitution of the United States of America which begins in the Preamble with “We the People of the United States….”  Lest we forget on this Veterans Day 2012, the sacrifices of the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces during this nation’s history and those who serve today.   Lest we forget the sacrifices of the men and women who sacrifice(d) on the home front while troops are abroad, the sacrifices of civilians who work and volunteer in efforts to benefit their neighbors.  These men, women, boys, and girls are not similar in appearance, ideologies, or mannerisms, but they are all People of the United States.

Country First

You were elected to represent all of these People.  You are not the voice of just your political faction, your gender, your religion, your economic status, or just for yourselves.  You are the voice for all in your district or state and a single voice amongst 535 representing “We the People of the United States.”  Whether it is a result of Party loyalty or the monetary contributions from powerful industries and wealthy individuals, it often seems that the “We” has morphed into an “Us” and “Me.”  That might feel or sound justifiable when you are a member of “Us” or the “Me,” but what about the larger picture?  Coach John Wooden in his dislike for descriptors such as stars, bench warmers, and so on with its focus on factionalism said it simply when addressing the concept of  “Me, me, and me.”  “Everyone contributes to the success of everyone else.  This is called cooperation, and it is a value fundamental to my philosophy of competitive greatness.  It is a trademark of a real team.” (John Wooden).

A Congressman and Senator’s chance to write history

You might crave the personal glory.  You might even be bought and paid for by your political party or those who fund your PACs or who direct additional Super PAC and 501(c) resources in your direction.  Some of you may be that weak or insecure.  Regardless, consider the future of this great country if we allow for either ideology or money to expand that factionalism.   John Wooden’s “Preseason Letter to the Team 1969” is simple and accurate.  “Recorded history shows us that the underlying reason for the failure of every civilization or cause has been the breakdown from within, and I deeply believe that most potentially great teams did not measure up to what seemed possible and logical failed to do so because of friction in one way or another from within.  Let us not be victimized in such a manner.”

Would you rather be remembered as a Member of Congress who continued the ideas of hope and opportunity or as the individuals who took the lead in the United States losing its world status earned by previous generations by advocating separatism and partisanship?

Let’s Start Here:

Speaker Boehner and Senator Reid as Majority Leaders in your respective Chambers, please try to forget about differences for a brief period and find some common beliefs.  Economically, the pit is so large that you both know that horrendous amounts of money are simply wasted through inefficiency, duplication, corruption, and both ignorance and stupidity.  Unfortunately, the muck is so deep that plugging those gaps is only a beginning.  Some legitimate and highly worthwhile programs will need to be reduced whether we like it or not, but that does not necessarily have to be permanent as needs for the country continually evolve, and we can reduce the size of this expanse.

Will never be popular:

Cutting expenditures is difficult and must occur, but raising additional revenue is needed as well because of the depth of the muck.  Speaker Boehner I fully agree that the tax code needs to be reformed and I believe it should be a top priority of the next Congress.  In the immediate, however, outside the allegiances some Members have to Grover Norquist, some special interests, and a spin media push promoting factionalism to increase the profit margins for specific groups, increased tax rates should be a part of the deficit and budget solution.  Redistribution and punishment rhetoric aside, the ideology of the past has not worked for the benefit of the United States.  Economists will argue this data and the positions in this article, but there just might be a consensus that increasing income gaps within nations has been negative historically in terms of the stability of the country.


Reality or Rhetoric

The media and vested interests will cast labels of socialism and communism at any thought of economic class differences.  Unfortunately, however, those labels are partisan based and not on logic.  According to The Congressional Budget Office, the income of the top 1 percent of earning households grew 275 percent from 1979 to 2007. At the same time, the income of other American households grew just 62 percent.  http://money.usnews.com/money/business-economy/articles/2012/01/04/breaking-down-the-income-gap-into-real-terms.

Please consider that within the context of  individual tax rates historically:  http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/Content/PDF/individual_rates.pdf.

I guess when people rely upon emotionalism and partisan arguments, it makes sense that one minute President Obama is a weak President while one minute later he has become a tyrant who can single-handedly end the United States.

Let’s Face Some Truth

Sadly, everyone is blaming everyone else for the current economic conditions and number of jobs.  If it were true that increasing the tax burden on the highest income brackets would hamper job creation and economic recovery, there would be no issues today given the percentage increase in incomes of those at the top with the tax breaks received.  The jobs would exist today if that argument were correct.  The issue is that less money is being spent by consumers and thereby decreasing the need and demand to create.

Individuals and businesses with incomes under $250,000 return profits to the economy in tangible forms such as business expansion, building and purchasing of homes, and so on.  It is not used in speculation and other ventures which benefit only the investor.  Wealth is not created on paper or some database, but in tangible goods and services which can be seen and used.  It is these people, those in the middle economically, who buy goods and services and reinvest in the economy which in turn spurs growth.  Many in Congress seem to agree, yet they hold these individuals hostage in a quest to either truly redistribute or to further increase the income gap.

Tough Question for the 535

Members of Congress is your opposition to letting the Bush era tax cuts expire for  upper income brackets while maintaining them at the lower levels because it increases your personal tax burden?  Please compare, however, your average wealth to that of the median income in this country.  There seems to be quite a gap even using the broad range data you are required to disclose.  Using the logic put forth by many Congressmen and Senators of the damage increasing tax rates at the top would cause, that reasoning should mean that the country is not having any problems today as each Member of Congress would be investing considerable amounts of funds creating jobs and rebuilding our infrastructure if the trickle down approach worked.  Does anyone believe that?  How can anyone in Congress justify the amount of outside spending this election cycle and argue that money is not available at the highest income levels?


Outside spending this election cycle

Data and graph credit: Center for Responsive Politics

What do you feel is your role as one of the 535?

With all due respect, do you represent the United States of America and its entire people regardless of individual differences?  Do you represent yourselves and care nothing of the great history of our country?  Do you represent your Political Party and personal interests first and your constituents and more importantly the country last?  Are you individuals or commodities available for purchase to please the whims of those who own you?

Is this barefoot farm boy turned Professor of History wrong?

I would like to hope that America has not become that cheap where its elected leaders allow themselves to be bought and controlled as an ordinary item.  If you continue to place Party and personal loyalty first, and refuse to work together consider how you will be remembered in history?  Would you rather be remembered as a Member of Congress who continued the ideas of hope and opportunity, or as the individuals who took the lead watching and bickering amongst yourselves while the United States lost its world status earned by previous generations?

Whether as a kid in the strawberry field alongside my grandfather or standing in front of a classroom trying to continue lessons learned from those who experienced what we call history today, my opinion does not differ:

Given the history of this great country and the sacrifices made by previous generations, I still have faith in Congress to work together for the best of the country and represent all of the people.  Speaker Boehner and Senator Reid, I pray that you and your respective peers in the House and the Senate do not destroy that faith I have in you.  Remember that in order to have a Constitution, those present had to compromise.  On the issue of representation for both large and small states, the compromise which created the House of Representatives and the United States Senate where you have the honor of serving today became known as the Great Compromise.  I pray that you have the same integrity and belief in that decisions should be based on the best interests of not the loudest, or richest, but for everyone because “We the People of the United States” may not be the same, but we are all governed by the Constitution.  You are the leaders of those elected to represent “We the People.”  If failure occurs, it is not the fault of the President, other Chamber, or other Party.  If either of you wish to point a finger casting blame, it should be while looking into a mirror.  You will see a reflection of your image, but peer just a little deeper, and you’ll see my reflection along with the rest of the American people.  For those like me in the background, we care nothing about who gets credit; we are merely inseparable blurs of the masses.  Failure, however, by either or by both Parties failing to sacrifice and work together as a team means we all must bear the burden of defeat and lose the privileges that previous generations bestowed upon us.