Monday, April 27, 2015

Congress Has Gotten Really Good at Saying "No!"

Years ago when I was teaching parenting classes, my mentor told a story about an interaction she had with her two year-old daughter. As is often the case with children that age, Mom had heard her say "No!" to just about anything and everything all day. Finally she said, "Congratulations, you've gotten really good at saying 'no.' Now let's work on something else."

I think about that story when I look at what our Congress has been up to lately. Case in point: Colleen McCain Nelson reports in the Wall Street Journal that, rather than be embarrassed by the letter 47 senators sent to Iran's leaders suggesting that they shouldn't trust President Obama in negotiations over their nuclear weapons program, they've now decided to implement the same strategy on global climate talks.
President Barack Obama and Congress are headed for another power clash on the international stage, as key Senate Republicans challenge his efforts to forge a global pact on climate change.

The White House considers the agreement with nearly 200 nations a historic opportunity to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions world-wide. But some GOP senators view it as executive overreach, and they are quietly considering ways to warn other countries that the president doesn’t speak for them and may not be able to deliver on his promises to slash emissions.

The strategy has a familiar ring. Last month, 47 Republican senators signed a letter telling Iran’s leaders that the next president could revoke any nuclear agreement and that Congress could modify it at any time. Some Senate Republicans say they want to send a similar message to the countries negotiating an agreement that would rein in greenhouse-gas emissions.
Of course most Republicans won't even admit that climate change is happening (or that humans have anything to do with it), so they have no reason to do anything other than say "no" to efforts to stop it. But when it comes to Iran, they simply want to obstruct the agreement this administration and the other countries involved in the P5+1 talks come up with. They say they don't want Iran to develop nuclear weapons, but they aren't willing to offer an alternative way to accomplish that goal.

I have to say that we're not seeing much more that is productive from the Democrats these days. It's clear they want to stop the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. Many of their arguments rest on the failure of NAFTA. The Obama administration has suggested that one of the reasons TPP is important is because it fixes what's wrong with NAFTA. If the opponents of TPP don't agree with that, have they suggested anything that would improve the status quo? I sure haven't heard it.

So perhaps you see why I'm thinking that it's time to say to Congress, "Congratulations, you've gotten really good at saying 'no.' Now let's work on something else."

If that's not possible, then I'd go with President Obama's line from Saturday night: time to say, (rhymes with) "Buckit."

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