The Times West Virginian

November 18, 2012

Most believe nation is in for ‘more of the same’

By Misty Poe
Times West Virginian

— It’s something we often have to convince ourselves of, but change is a good thing.

Of course, these days, we need to try to convince ourselves that even though things didn’t change with the 2012 general election, it can still be a good thing.

And I’m not saying that everything would have been better if there were a change in presidents. In the end, America re-elected Barack Obama to another four-year term. The nation also elected a majority of Republicans in the House and a Democratic Senate majority.

So nothing much has changed.

Here’s hoping for a more productive 2013.

You see, as of late summer, only 61 bills had become law out of 3,914 bills introduced. If you do the math, that’s less than 2 percent of all proposed laws. It’s the worst rate since World War II, though 2011 came close. Last year, Congress passed just 90 bills into law. Since 1947, Congress has at least passed 125 laws per year, with the rare exception of 1995.

What’s happening, it seems, is one chamber is passing bills and sending them to the next chamber, which won’t take up the bills at all because they are “marked” with the other party’s scent. So very little gets accomplished.

And it seems like a lot of it is grand posturing by both parties. Consider the fact that the House voted 33 times to repeal health-care reform law, and 33 times that bill was sent to the Senate, which wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole. Yet neither side actually prepared a bill to address health care or some of the issues with the reform, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

And President Obama didn’t have to buy a new box of pens this year. If I remember the “School House Rock” jingle, that bill on Capitol Hill needs to pass both chambers and get signed by the president to be a law. So, with nothing “changing” after the election, will we spin our wheels in the dust for two more years? Four?

We asked our readers, who log on each week to to vote in our online poll. Last week we asked, “The election has come and gone. How do you see the next few years going in Washington, D.C.?”

And here are your responses:

• More of the same. One chamber will pass bills the other will never touch and we’ll all suffer for it — 61.16 percent.

• We have a lame duck president, made even lamer by party politics that won’t allow his proposals to be considered — 23.97 percent.

• I believe leaders of this country will finally decide to put aside differences and work for a better America — 15 percent.

I have to say that with only 15 percent of our voters believing that the gloves are going to come off and everybody is going to place nice, it’s pretty reflective of some immediate change that needs to happen on both sides of the aisle. America has apparently lost its faith in Washington, D.C., and something needs to happen to change their minds.

This week, let’s talk about the rumbling in our own capital. State superintendent of schools Jorea Marple was fired last week in an apparent move to kick-start education reform statewide. Where do you think the reform needs to start?

Log on. Vote. Email me or respond directly online.

Misty Poe