"Politics as Usual" is alive and well in Washington. Last Thursday an extension of the Patriot Act was passed without any revisions. How did that happen? Did you hear a word about it? What's going on?
Well, it seems the Patriot Act was due to expire in the next few days. There was a general consensus of opinion that the act was a needed piece of legislation but that there were several things which needed to be changed. The Democrats and the Republicans both wanted to pass an extension with some important revisions. It has gone through committees in both houses of Congress and, believe it or not, they had actually agreed to a version that both sides could support. The Democrats were not completely happy about it because they believe it makes intrusions on our privacy too easy for the government. The Republicans believed it was an important and essential tool in combating world wide terrorism. Neither side was completely happy, but both sides agreed the revised version was good enough to support. The President had seen it and said he was willing to sign it into law as soon as it passed. Wow, great! An example of something important that actually got bipartisan support and was going through the system the way it was supposed to. But don't get too comfortable, this is Congress.
At the same time all this was happening there was another bill, H.R. 3961 - The Medicare Physician Reform Act of 2009, going through the house. This was a bill no one wanted to interfere with. It involved continuing to make Medicare payments to Doctors. Failing to pass it could result in many doctors refusing to see Medicare patients. No one, not Democrats nor Republicans, wanted credit for causing that to happen.
Enter Representative John Conyers, D-Michigan. At the last minute, just as the Medicare Payment Bill was ready to be voted on, he stepped up to the podium and inserted an amendment to the Medicare Bill. His amendment extended the Patriot Act without revision. Bang, just like that. It caught everyone by surprise. Without time to debate it or to offer further revisions, the bill was voted on and passed into law. Simply put, the Democrats usurped the system and avoided the modifications to the Act that the Republicans had wanted. Revisions these same Democrats had already agreed to.
It happened so fast that no one saw it. The media hardly even reported on it. I have not even heard a word about it yet from people like Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity, who are normally quick to comment on these kind of activities. How's that for slick?
Well, I don't know about you, but to me this is a perfect example of the underhanded way our current batch of politicians do business. It was dishonest and disingenuous. This is the kind of behavior we expect from Used Car Salesmen - it is not what we should be getting from our Congressmen and Senators.
Personally, I am disgusted by this "politics as usual" way they have come to do things in Washington. Our government and the people we elect to run our government should be of a higher caliber and we should be demanding it. Shame on them, and shame on us if we reelect them.