In Washington, doubletalk persists

 

Here in your nation’s capital, things are not always what they seem.

There is great excitement that an actual “budget” has been hammered out in Congress, averting another government shutdown. This is the first budget since 2011. Even though it is Congress’ job to devise an annual budget, this once-in-three-years development is hailed as remarkable.

Never mind that the budget permits the coal industry to keep dumping toxic waste in public streams although 300,000 West Virginians just went through days when tapwater was so poisoned it couldn’t be used for anything except flushing toilets.

Never mind that despite the 2008 recession caused by mismanagement by big money, government financial regulators such as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission will not get the enforcement money they need.

President Obama also has changed. He came into office pledging to work with Congress, including Republicans, to get things done. Now he says whenever he can get away with doing something by executive action without Congress, he will.

After Obama vowed that he will curtail overreaching by the National Security Agency, which has been spying on close U.S. allies and American citizens, it turns out the NSA has secretly put secret spying and cyberattack software on 100,000 computers.

And never mind that the government now uses drones not just against foreign dictators and terrorists but also for domestic surveillance. Growing marijuana may be legal in some states but in other states if you grow weed, a drone will catch you and authorities will whisk you off to jail.

In this country many think work determines who you are although just about everyone wants the respect that comes with having a job. And the government taxes workers to provide for compensation if they lose their jobs. But with three Americans in pursuit of every job opening, somebody is going to be left behind. Nonetheless, Congress cut off benefits to a million unemployed Americans saying they had been unemployed too long and that it must be their fault. Never mind that their families are now destitute.

I have a young, intelligent relative who lost the use of his right arm after being attacked as an innocent bystander by two killers, one now in prison for life and the other on death row. After 27 surgeries, this college graduate has been on 40 straight job interviews without success despite great charm and an incomparable work ethic. If it is hard in this economy for able-bodied people to find jobs, it is even harder for the physically impaired.

Yet many in Congress don’t seem to care why people can’t find jobs or what they are supposed to do without any income.

Some legislators also don’t seem to worry that after more than a decade of war, the nation is exhausted, its blood and treasure spent. The men and women of the armed forces need a break.

The budget calls for more defense spending and new weapons although mass transit and infrastructure projects (we are 25th in the world behind Barbados for fixing roads and bridges) were not funded. (The good news is that military employees get a one percent pay raise.)

Without giving time for Obama’s nuclear disarmament talks with Iran to conclude, some lawmakers are demanding tougher sanctions on Iran. Some appear eager for war with Iran, much larger and even more complicated than Iraq. We’re already spending about $92 billion a year on war.

But lest you are disappointed by such government shenanigans, some amazing budgetary compromises were made. No money may be spent on the mandatory switchover from incandescent bulbs. Federal agencies will get no more money for worker-training videos spoofing “Gilligan’s Island” or “Star Trek.” Despite attacks on U.S. embassies in such places as Benghazi, $224 million less is allocated to embassy security.

There are many more Washington maneuverings to follow, if you can get past the doubletalk.

Ann McFeatters has covered the White House and national politics since 1986. .

© 2014, McClatchy-Tribune

Read more From Our Inbox stories from the Miami Herald

  • A battle ahead on ‘personhood’

    Some of the most hard-fought Senate races this fall are likely to feature big fights over “personhood.”

  • The Cuba embargo is such a bad idea

    On a drive across Cuba a few weeks ago, my family and I decided to make a quick detour to the Bay of Pigs. It was hot, and the beach at Playa Giron — where 53 years ago a tragicomic CIA-sponsored invasion force stormed ashore — seemed like a good place for lunch. Plus, who could pass up the opportunity to swim in the Bay of Pigs? I would swim in the Gulf of Tonkin for the same reason.

  • A deadly decade for environmentalists

    According to a report released this week by the London-based NGO Global Witness, at least 908 environmental activists have been killed over the last decade. That number is comparable to the 913 journalists killed in the course of their work in the same period and is likely on the low side — reporting is inconsistent in many countries and full data for 2013 hasn’t yet been collected. 2012 was deadliest year ever for environmentalists with 147 killed.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category