Missing out on Making a Difference

Today is March 23, and it’s National Near Miss Day. So in honor of historic near misses, almost made its and never were gonna do its, let’s pause and tip a glass to the United States Senate — and the House, as well. For if there were ever a group of intelligent people who had a near miss with greatness, it’s them. This week, the Senate spent quality time almost accomplishing the following notable items:

1. They talked about legislation that would enforce state tax on Internet purchases. They even voted, 74-26, to proclaim it as a good idea. Which makes sense, because they only started talking about it 14 years ago. That’s barely enough time to debate it, craft the language some and bicker over the details. Just 14 years! Give them a chance to let the idea settle a bit, and to get a feel for how this Internet thing works. Then of course they’ll need time to soak in the details. Exemptions must be created. Rules put in place. Lobbyists must be heard. Mom and Pop online retailers must be made to pay, along with those grubby, greedy and cheatin’ consumers who for years have neglected to report their online purchases.

2. Most impressive was the Senate’s budget framework. For the first time since 2009, they passed their own budget resolution. This one, however, has no chance of passing, as it adds to the deficit and does exactly the opposite of the crack-pot budget just passed by the House of Representatives. It’s great that the Senate passed a budget – a real notable near miss. With all the uber smart people in the room, would it be asking too much to get just a little closer to the target?

3. They stayed up late until 5 am, passing meaningless amendments on the budget framework that serve only to help their re-election campaigns and stand no chance of passing. Called vote-a-rama, it’s an urgent bit of business thanks to their two week Easter Break — and vitally important in order to get all the meaningless work out of the way. It’s great to have your voice heard, sure, but a near miss when it happens in an echo chamber with no real impact to American lives.

But about the budget – and its near miss with reality. On one side you have a fantasy budget that repeals the Affordable Care Act, among other things. On the other there’s no regard to the deficit or the need for our Government to tighten spending. On near miss day, that’s a miss about a mile wide, and sadly another reason why we will face another of a long chain of near misses and critical votes.

All things considered, I suppose we should be happy. Congress did manage a near miss on the Government shutdown. Whew.

See the amendment craziness here.

Photo courtesy of www.senate.gov

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