Bums in Congress Work About as Much as the Unemployed

How we can force politicians to do some work next year

Congress just got back from a week-long Thanksgiving vacation and is scheduled to start a month-long vacation on December 8th. When they return, it will be 2012, an election year, and if you think there was partisan bickering this year, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

This means that for another year nothing meaningful will get done. There will be no jobs bill to help the 14 million unemployed, no deficit-reduction bill after the Super Committee scam, and Americans will still be fighting and dying in Afghanistan, a war that has lost its purpose. You can forget a comprehensive energy policy or immigration reform, two things every politician promises, but no one ever really does.

I hope you are angry about a Congress that takes as much time off as it works while the country is suffering; a Congress that has been corrupted by a seemingly unending stream of corporate and special interest money; a Congress whose members grow rich in office while their constituents suffer.

I hope that anger has grown into action. We need an independent, populist, grass-roots movement in this country to demand more. The Tea Party is impressive, but partisan. Occupy Wall Street showed promise, but lost direction.

I have an idea. It is simple, but powerful. We should lower our expectations and demand that the next Congress tackle one major problem. Just one. If they can’t do it, they quit, every one of them. I’m serious.

Congress seems to love pledges, so I wrote one up: “If the federal budget is not balanced by August 2014, I hereby pledge that I will not seek re-election.” I chose the deficit as the one problem to solve because so many other problems are tied to it and because budgets and funding are the most basic Constitutional responsibility of Congress.

You can download the pledge at balanceorquit.com. My hope is that an army of citizens, armed with the pledge, will go to town hall meetings and campaign appearances to ask House members, Senators and Congressional candidates to sign the pledge. I am asking that you record video of the responses so I can run them on TV during my nightly commentaries that air across the country and show them on the Philly Post. A refusal to sign is just as meaningful as a signature, for it exposes an arrogant expectation to keep a job, even if one doesn’t do a job.

So far, thousands have signed on to the site and 500 people have downloaded the pledge. Am I hopelessly idealistic enough to believe that this pledge alone will balance the federal budget? No. My hope is that the Balance or Quit idea will at least make things uncomfortable for Congressional members who put self over service.

The other option is to do nothing, but then we would be just like Congress.