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American Enterprise Bank

What’s less popular than Congress?

Here’s something to think about.

The U.S. Congress (for low-information voters, that’s the House and Senate) isn’t one of our best respected institutions. It may be due to, oh, things like not passing a budget in over three years while still spending above a trillion dollars a year more than revenues.

Or maybe people don’t like the fact that Congress generously pads its members  and staff with salary and benefit levels that far exceed us working shlubs, including lifetime benefits even for “one-termers.”

You know, things like that.

So it should be no surprise that a recent Public Policy Poll (www.publicpolicypolling.com) comes along and informs us that Congress is flying high with a favorability rating of 9 percent. One in ten of us think Congress is doing a good job.

I’d suggest that if you know anyone in that 10 percent category, you avoid getting into a vehicle if they’re driving. And don’t make a decision based on their recommendation.

If you yourself are among the ten percent, you’re probably not reading this anyway; it’s doubtful you know how to read.

The pollsters found a full 85 percent of us holding Congress in a negative light, and that’s not unusual. So this time, they asked people to compare the U.S. Congress to 26 other things that are commonly disliked.

This is where it gets interesting.

– Cockroaches are more popular than Congress by 45-43 percent.

– Brussel sprouts are more popular by 69-23 percent.

– Lice (you remember lice) are more popular by 67-19 percent.

– Colonoscopies are more popular by 58-31 percent.

– Carnies (those guys at the county fair) — more popular 39-31 percent.

– Root canals — more popular than congressmen 56-32 percent.

– Used car salesmen beat them out 57-32 percent.

– Those NFL replacement refs? Yep, they’re more trusted than members of Congress 56-29 percent.

And it goes on.

This is all humorous (go to the website and read more) but it ain’t funny.

Too often we look to who is in the Oval Office as the personification of what we don’t like about Washington’s direction. We forget that in this republic, Congress has the real power — the power of the purse. You take the money away from Washington and it’s just another town loaded with jerks.

The current president is an arrogant jerk, but he’s not the problem. The people we elect (all too frequently re-elect) are the problem. I’m no fan of the federal judiciary either, but they (at least yet) aren’t in charge of raising the revenues and directing where they go.

That’s the job of Congress. And they’re doing a lousy (remember “lice”) job of it. And the blame can be spread equally among both major political parties, thank you very much.

Around Christmas there was a lot of Internet chatter about a constitutional amendment to re-direct the path Congress has taken us the past half-century.

Term limits. Now there’s an idea.

A maximum of two, six-year terms in the Senate; three (maybe four) two-year terms in the House.

No special benefits; the same health plan as other federal employees for the time they’re in Washington. No retirement benefits; when you leave, you leave and the government’s finished paying for you.

And while we’re at it, ex-members can’t return as lobbyists at any level of government. Peddle your influence somewhere else; if you’re good you should be able to get a real job.

There are other suggested reforms floating out there, and my guess is, given the current mood of the electorate, some of them could find their way into the amendment process.

We gotta do something, and with that deficit clock ticking we don’t have a lot of time.

Cockroaches and lice? Yea, they’re pretty nasty,

But who would’ve dreamed that Brussel sprouts could beat out anything?

Had my dear late mother been stricter, I’d still be at the dinner table dreaming up strategies to avoid eating them.

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