It’s not earth-shattering news that Congress has been, on balance, the least respected branch of government for the last several decades. Reason: They don’t do their job. They bloviate, they posture, they investigate, they hold hearings, they appear on cable news, they raise funds from wealthy constituents and go on junkets, they threaten to turn out the lights if they don’t get their way, but only rarely do they pass laws for the betterment of our country. No wonder the people are fed up.
But now Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has done them a huge favor and given them the opportunity to recover their reputations. He has appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel in the matter of putative Russian meddling with our election. Even though some — with justification — wonder what precise crime has been committed to merit this appointment, given the unremitting nature of the opposition and the inordinate amount of our national attention this controversy is taking, plus a media so over-heated it’s causing global warming all by itself, we have no choice but to clear the air once and for all. Otherwise this may be with us into the next millennium.
Mueller is highly qualified for this task and should be able to do it in a fair and thorough manner, hopefully not finding it necessary to indict someone, anyone, to justify his role. If Trump and/or his people colluded with Russia during or after the campaign, we will find out. If they didn’t, we will find that out too. And can act accordingly.
Therefore, Congress should absolutely go back to their day job — enacting legislation — immediately. It might be hard work and less glamorous than pontificating about the state of the nation or the malfeasances of the current administration — they may actually have to read something — but it was what they were elected to do, what we pay them to do. The high-profile investigations can go on hold while Mueller goes about his work. In the unlikely possibility that he fails, there will be plenty of time to correct him with renewed investigations. The television cameras will still be there, as will that voracious media ever eager to hear the parsings of every little word or tweet, real or imagined, leaked or recorded.
But if Congress doesn’t get back to work at this point, they are everything the public accuses them of being and more. They all deserve to go and many will.
As if we needed a reminder, here are the pressing items for Congress to focus on like the proverbial laser:
Healthcare — We don’t have a functioning system anymore. Obamacare has all but imploded. The House has passed a proposal. Time for the Senate to address it with the seriousness it deserves, not show off their supposed superiority. No one cares about that. In fact, it’s repellent. This is not about reinventing the wheel. It’s about finding a workable system — and with all deliberate speed. Don’t let the perfect (it doesn’t exist) be the enemy of the good. People’s lives are involved here.
Tax reform — The stock market tanked Wednesday after claims Trump had obstructed justice, even though those accusations were almost instantly dismissed by some of our finest legal minds. (The media reaction to this was ludicrously uneducated about the law.) This sudden dip was clearly a result of market fears that tax reform would not pass. If it doesn’t and the market continues down, we will have a certain recession and many Americans will have their retirement funds significantly diminished, unemployment will rise again, middle class incomes will decline, etc.. This is monumentally selfish behavior on the part of the politicians who promulgated this falsity and the press that urged them on virtually non-stop. Congress must reform our vestigial tax system with its confiscatory corporate tax that keeps billions in profit on foreign shores. Almost anything would be an improvement.
Infrastructure — Conservatives are justifiably worried about the deficit but anyone looking around at the state of our infrastructure knows that it is in sore need of repair. It’s up to Congress to set priorities on how much and where to spend. That’s work. Do it.
There are, of course, many other areas for improvement, but if Congress were to do this much it would have accomplished more than it has in decades, possibly centuries. If it continues to play a game of Who-Shot-John, nothing will happen.
It would be easy for me and others to point fingers here. There are a fair number of individuals responsible for this mess. But as I said, Rod Rosenstein has presented them with a potential to reform. They should seize on it. As we used to say, the whole world is watching. That, if anything, was the message of election 2016. It turned out those folks in Middle America were paying a lot more attention than Beltway elites thought they were. They still are. And they vote, in case you haven’t noticed.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His latest book is I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already.