Our Elected Politicians Are Not Doing their Jobs

Our Elected Politicians Are Not Doing their Jobs

© David Burton 2019


     “Everyone in America loves to hate Congress and over the years, congressional approval has reflected that.
     “Right now, {April of 2019} just 26 percent of the nation believes Congress is doing its job well, and that’s the highest number since February of 2017 when a Gallup poll had that number at 28 percent.
     “There are good reasons for that discontent. Congress has been unable to deal with issues like immigration, health care, or climate change and in the era of Donald Trump, it has only occasionally been effective at providing pushback or holding the president accountable for his actions.” (Ref. 1)

     “Congress’ job is to pass laws addressing America’s problems – to improve the general welfare. Another vital task is to represent the American people – their constituents. Collectively, they should represent the will of America’s citizens.
     “Is it doing its job well? The polls of Americans, starting a long time ago, say it is not. The 112th Congress, several years ago, achieved the distinction of having only 11% of Americans saying that its performance was satisfactory. . .
     “Congress continues down the slippery slope of mediocrity by its polarization, not only between political party ideology but also within each party’s membership in the House and Senate. It has failed to pass a budget for several years; it has divided on almost every issue it addresses; its productivity – in terms of laws passed – is abysmal.” [Emphasis mine] (Ref. 2)

     Among the issues that Congress has been unable to resolve are the financial futures of Medicare and Social Security. The problems with these two social problems have been festering for years, but our elected senators and congressmen have proven to be unable to effectively address these issues. These two programs affect nearly every American at some point in their lives and, for this reason, public discontent with our elected officials remains high and approval low.

     “If you're already on Medicare or counting on it when you retire, you're in for a shock. Medicare Part A -- the fund that pays hospital and nursing home bills -- is running out of money. [Emphasis mine] A mere seven years from now, it will no longer have enough funds to pay your providers' bills in full. Medicare trustees sounded the alarm in June {2019}, urging Washington lawmakers to act ‘as soon as possible’ to protect people ‘already dependent’ on the program.
     “Good advice, but don't expect most politicians to take it. The Democrats running for president are in fantasyland, proposing to expand Medicare to millions of younger people, or even to the entire population through ‘Medicare for All’ -- never mind Medicare's insolvency. That's like a family that can't pay its mortgage going shopping for a mega-mansion. [Emphasis mine]
     “Amazingly, in four national debates so far, not one moderator has asked the presidential wannabes how they would secure Medicare's finances and keep the promise the nation has made to seniors. As if 65-and-overs don't count.
     - - -
     “Medicare Part A is funded through a payroll tax paid by employers and employees. As soon as the tax revenue is collected, it's spent. Today's workers and employers fund health care for today's seniors. The trouble is, there are too many boomers retiring, compared with the number of workers paying the tab.
     “Economists have been warning for years about this impending shortfall. Fixing it is another matter. During the 2012 presidential election, when Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan proposed Medicare reform, Democrats ran a TV ad depicting Ryan gruesomely rolling a wheelchair-bound granny off a cliff. The bitter lesson was demagoguery works. Don't level with voters about the problem. Just make big, impossible promises.
     “That was eight years ago. Every year since, Medicare trustees have warned about the program's slow slide into default. But Washington's cowardly politicians stayed mum.
     “Shoring up the program will require curbing benefit costs, hiking the payroll tax or inching up the eligibility age to slow enrollment growth.
     “The longer politicians dither, the fewer options remain available. A decade ago, the most painless approach was to raise the eligibility age of 65 by a month each year so that 12 years later the eligibility age would be 66. This gradual approach would have given future retirees plenty of advance notice.
     “Increasing payroll taxes is a nonstarter; it threatens to drag down the economy and clobber low-income workers disproportionately.
     “Currently, Trump is using his only option. He's reducing benefit costs by cutting what hospitals and other providers are paid. Any other remedy would require Congress' cooperation, which is unlikely.
     “Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and other backers of Medicare for All are making big promises with no way to pay. Sanders has proposed several tax hikes, but altogether, they wouldn't foot the bill for even half the estimated cost of his program. It's make-believe math. [Emphasis mine]
     “There's nothing make-believe about Medicare Part A's impending insolvency. Some 61 million seniors depend on Medicare and have no other means of paying their hospital bills. Millions more will become dependent on Medicare in the next six years.
     “For White House contenders to ignore this crisis, which will have to be solved during the next presidential term, is a slap in the face to seniors and middle-aged Americans.” (Ref. 3)

     A year earlier, we learned that it wasn’t just Medicare that would be bankrupt. In June of 2018, it was announced that, “Medicare and Social Security are running out of money more quickly than expected . . .
     “Government trustees reported that a combination of rising costs and an aging population cut the life expectancy of Medicare’s trust fund to just 8 years.
     “The program is now expected to deplete its funds by 2026, down from last year’s estimate of 2029.
     “Meanwhile, higher benefit payouts mean Social Security will have to dip into its nearly $3 trillion trust fund for the first time since 1982 — and trustees warned the program would be insolvent by 2034.
     “The news was not all bad at Social Security.
     “The fund that assists disabled individuals is now expected to remain solvent through 2032, up from an earlier projection of 2028. However, the fund for retirees is expected to go broke a year sooner than earlier projections.
     “After 2034, the trustees say Social Security will be able to pay out about three-quarters of the benefits it owes to recipients.
     “Both programs are funded by dedicated taxes that no longer generate sufficient revenue to cover either program’s costs.
     “The financial future of both entitlement programs was further complicated by one of President Trump’s most controversial decisions.
     “His $1.5 trillion tax cut program reduced expected revenues for the two programs over coming years . . .
     “The White House claims the long-running economic boom will help secure Medicare and Social Security’s future.
      - - -
     “More than 60 million Americans benefit from both programs, which provide a guaranteed income and health care for many retirees and the disabled.” (Ref. 4)

     Back in April 2019, the Trump administration announced that: “The nation’s Social Security program is running out of money with benefits on track to be reduced by around 2035 unless Congress steps in . . .
     “The prediction is somewhat better than last year’s annual assessment delivered to Congress, when the government predicted a reduction of benefits a year earlier in 2034.
     “The government also concluded . . . that Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund will run out of money in 2026. That’s on par with last year’s assessment.
     " ‘Lawmakers have many policy options that would reduce or eliminate the long-term financing shortfalls in Social Security and Medicare,’ according to an administration statement. ‘Lawmakers should address these financial challenges as soon as possible.’
     “The viability of America’s 84-year-old Social Security program has become an urgent question for politicians looking to court voters in next year’s election.
     “President Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed not to touch the popular program or Medicare, the health insurance program for seniors. But his 2020 budget proposed spending less on both programs over the next 10 years, including some $26 billion on Social Security programs and hundreds of billions trimmed from Medicare. Administration officials insisted that the cuts wouldn't impact benefits and the cost savings would be found by rooting out fraud and changing how the Medicare pays providers like hospitals.
     “House Democrats have vowed to block the budget proposal from being enacted.
      - - -
     "Options to fix the program could include increasing the payroll tax, raising the retirement age or modifying the formula that determines how people receive their benefits. Some 94% of workers participate in Social Security.
     “One House bill would expand benefits for individuals, implement a payroll tax to earnings that are more than $400,000, and lower taxes for some recipients, among other things.
     “. . . the chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees Social Security and is a co-sponsor of that bill, said the report ‘underscores why it is so important that Congress take action now to prevent cuts from occurring in 2035.’
     " ‘With 10,000 Baby Boomers becoming eligible for Social Security every day, and with people facing a retirement crisis after still not fully recovering wealth lost during the Great Recession, the time to act is now’ . . .
     “{The} acting Social Security commissioner, said the program was able to buy more time before it depletes its reserves because of a decline in people receiving money for disability. . .
      - - -
     “But even with that extra cash on hand and plenty of political support, the cost of the program has struggled to keep pace with the cost of paying out benefits for some 174 million Americans and their 63 million beneficiaries.
     " ‘Social Security’s total cost is projected to exceed its total income (including interest) in 2020 for the first time since 1982, and to remain higher throughout the remainder of the projection period’ . . .” ( Ref. 5)

     While many of the facts and figures get muddied by political infighting between the Democrats, Republicans and President Trump, what should be obvious to all is the fact that the Medicare and Social security programs need to be updated in light of current and future actuarial considerations. Partisanship needs to be put aside, realistic projections need to be made, and all parties concerned need to adopt a fully-funded plan to meet the projected needs of both programs, with a built-in margin of safety.

     The financial shortcomings of Medicare and Social Security have been well-known for some years now, and still our elected politicians have not acted to resolve the problem. This should not be a partisan issue. The House, the Senate and the President should have long ago gotten together and jointly come up with a practical solution, instead of handing it back and forth like a hot potato. This is not a Republican or a Democratic problem - it is a problem facing all Americans and it needs to be addressed in this light. We have elected our national politicians to act in our behalf – they are not doing the job for which we elected them. If they don’t get their collective act together and do what we elected them to do, then it’s time to throw the bums out! If they can’t do what we elected them to do, then it’s time to replace them with people who will do what they are elected to do. Preening in front of cameras and microphones is not what we elected them for. The American people deserve better than what has been taking place in Washington in recent years.

     Congressional inaction on Social Security and Medicare are but two of the problems upon which our elected representatives have failed to act. Consider the issue of stopping or, at least, reducing gun violence and mass shootings in America. “After dozens of people were gunned down across two mass shootings {during the summer of 2019}, pressure is on Congress to address gun violence. If recent history is any guide, it will not. [Emphasis mine]
     “ ‘You can track every mass shooting that’s happened in the last five or six years and look to see what Congress has done, and the answer is probably nothing,’ said {the} managing director at gun control advocacy group Giffords, named for the congresswoman who was shot along with 12 others in a Safeway parking lot in Arizona in 2011.
     “Congress’s only response to deadly shootings in places like Parkland, Las Vegas, and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut has been to fix gaps in the federal background check registry.” (Ref. 6) That’s like sticking one’s finger in the dike to keep it from bursting. Actually, Congress and the President have done nothing to stop gun violence in America.

     Congress and the White House have colluded with the NRA and the nation’s owners of over four hundred million guns to stifle any meaningful action on gun control.[7]

     Part of the blame for this has been placed upon the shoulders of current and past Congressional Republicans and the current Republican president. “Senate Republicans have successfully blocked any meaningful gun control measures from becoming law over the past two decades.
     “. . . Republican House speakers . . . refused to put gun control measures to a vote when Republicans had the majority in the House. But in particular, the barrier has been the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster. Even when Senate Democrats have won a majority, they’ve needed Republican help to reach 60. They’ve never gotten it.” (Ref. 6)

     While Republicans have been the most determined to prevent real effective gun control legislation, the Democrats have failed to make such legislation a major issue and have not insisted strenuously enough upon ending the gun violence in this country.

     Another area where our politicians have failed to do what they were elected to do is that of illegal immigration. Over the past several years, illegal immigration has assumed the spotlight on the national stage. In the most recent two years, the nature of the problem has been greatly emphasized by the occupant of the White House. But, not to be lost in all the noise and rhetoric, is the fact that the problem has with us for many years, during both Democratic and Republican control of one or both houses of Congress, and/or the White House. The problem that has been thrust into the forefront has been brewing since long before Donald Trump took his oath of office. All the while, Congress failed to act.

     Americans “say that passing immigration reform ought to be done by Congress. On this, they’re 99 percent right – because it ought to have been done by Congress a long time ago. Instead, Congress has sat on their hands for the past several years.
     “There is simply no denying that the situation on the border is untenable. The New York Times {early in 2019} reported that unauthorized migrants are entering the country at double the rate from just one year ago, 76,000 in the month of February alone. There simply aren’t enough housing and medical resources to handle wave after wave of these new migrants. Border patrol is at a ‘breaking point.’
      - - -
     “. . . this crisis didn’t come from nowhere – it was created by . . . our elected representatives . . .
     “Two years {is how} how long Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. In the White House sat a president who campaigned on the issue of immigration reform more than any other. Does anyone doubt that if they had had the courage to draft and pass a bill, the President would have signed it immediately?
     “But too many of our elected representatives, in both the House and Senate, have given up the actual task of legislating. They’ve long since decided that they would rather stick their necks out to complain than to answer yay or nay on hard votes. [Emphasis mine]
     “It is a failure of imagination, a failure of leadership, and a failure to perform their Constitutional duties that have brought us to this unfortunate point.” (Ref. 8)

     There are still more areas in which our elected officials have failed to do their duty. Here in September of 2019, our elected officials again have not been doing the job to which they were elected – they have, as yet, failed to approve a defense budget for the coming year. “The potential for another Continuing Resolution poses a risk to the military, warfighter, and defense industry. The ‘kicking the can down the road’ strategy is not the solution and Congress must come together to ensure that our national defense programs are funded properly. Let’s also not forget that both sides of the aisle have not come to an agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020 (NDAA). Therefore, it is safe to say that the stakes are high in Washington to find a solution by the September 30th end of the current fiscal year.
     “With the anticipation of a Continuing Resolution through late November or early December, one word comes to mind, corrosive. A CR will once again damage our military capabilities and readiness recovery efforts. Old equipment, scarce spare parts, and curtailing training operations provide instability for our Nation’s defense. This jeopardizes our national security and our ability to deal with our adversaries for the present time and for generations to come. [Emphasis mine]
      - - -
     “Moreover, the hurdles without Defense Appropriations or an NDAA, provide inconsistencies and uncertainties that hurt the defense industry. For businesses small and large, a three-month long Continuing Resolution can be impactful. Depending on the length of a CR, suppliers may have to work around unpredictable budgets, acquisition program difficulties, and time-sensitive complications to multiyear procurement programs. With unresolved budgets, it becomes more difficult for the defense industry to collaborate with the federal government. The integration between the two supplies the best solutions for the warfighter. Any burden to transparency and openness can directly affect our national security, economy, and workforce development.
      - - -
     “As Congress negotiates and tangles with defense funding, members must realize the harm associated with Continuing Resolutions to both our national defense and industry.  . . .” (Ref. 9)

     It’s a sad fact, but as of January, 2018, Congress had passed 36 continuing resolutions since 2009 to fund the government rather than following the regular budget process.[10]

     So you decide. Based on the facts just presented, do you think our elected politicians are doing the jobs for which they were elected? Are we receiving the service which we supposedly deserve? If not, why are we continuing to elect these politicians instead of replacing them with those who will do what they are elected to do? Whose fault is it? Those elected, who don’t do their jobs, or we, the electorate, who elect them?


  1. Is Congress Doing Its Job?, Peter Jacobs, https://wdet.org/, 8 April 2019.
  2. Some Ruminations About Why Congress Isn’t Doing Its Job, Stephen Henderson, Conservative-Viewpoint,
    15 May 2018.
  3. Democrats to Seniors: Drop Dead , Betsy McCaughey, Real Clear Politics, 7 August 2019.
  4. Medicare, Social Security running out of money faster than expected , Nolan Hicks, New York Post, 5 June 2018.
  5. Social Security is running out of money, with benefits on track to be reduced by 2035,
    Anne Flaherty and Sophie Tatum, abc News, 22 April, 2019.
  6. Congress Has Tried To Pass Gun Control Laws After Major Mass Shootings. Here’s How They’ve Failed.,
    Paul McLeod, BuzzFeedNews, 5 August 2019.
  7. Gun Fanatics Using Trojan Horses to Keep Their Deadly Toys, David Burton, Son of Eliyahu; Article 375,
    30 August 2019.
  8. Jeff Webb Commentary: A Republican Controlled Congress Failed to Fix the Southern Border Crisis for Two Years, Jeff Webb, The Tennessee Star, 22 March 2019.
  9. Continuing Resolutions, an Oxymoron to a Successful National Defense, NDIA.org, 4 September 2019.
  10. FACT CHECK: HAS CONGRESS PASSED OVER 30 CONTINUING RESOLUTIONS IN THE LAST 10 YEARS?, Emily Larsen, checkyourfact.com, 18 January 2018.

  27 September 2019 {Article 378; Politics_50}    
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