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For legislators, politics gets in the way of governing

Another session comes to a close without progress on important issues
Thursday, May 22, 2008 | 11:40 a.m. CDT; updated 10:43 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I spent Sunday morning reading editorials, a luxury that I should engage in more often.

Of the columns read, seven dealt with legislation, current and proposed, all coming to the same conclusion: Government has failed to pass any legislation to protect its citizens. I was reading the editorial pages of the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. These articles could have been written in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Kansas City Star or the Columbia Missourian concerning Missouri’s 94th General Assembly.

Of the approximately 140 Missouri bills that achieved the status of “Truly Agreed and Finally Passed,” few, very few, deal with the immediate troubles affecting all the citizens of this state: health care, job creation, the housing crisis and runaway credit cards interest rates. Too many Missourians are having financial problems – too many are tired of breathing underwater.

As upsetting: Nearly 80 percent of these bills were passed in the last weeks of the session. Why? Infighting between the parties and the two Houses of state government.

Political rifts are nothing new. The failure of our legislators to pass laws that could improve the lives of all Missourians is nothing new. The calls for more cooperation and non-partisanship in dealing with these and other crises are nothing new. The size of the chasm found under the Grey Dome, however, is growing without relief in the foreseeable future.

Kathy and I will soon be moving to Missouri’s 25 Legislative District. Representative Judy Baker has served the district well, and I look forward to her run for the 9th U.S. Congressional District. I am afraid that the candidates vying for the Judy’s now open seat will fall into the same abyss of confrontation no matter how hard they campaign on cooperation and bipartisanship. This holds true for all candidates, state and federal, even Judy.

The last time there was real cooperation in the United States Congress was probably during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration. Why? Because Mr. Johnson was strong, extremely well respected by both parties and held a lot of IOUs. Governor Carnahan’s administration may have been the last in Missouri, though I know that will be argued. Mr. Blunt’s administration certainly could not find common ground anywhere under the Grey Dome.

As citizens, we must question all of the wannabes closely, not only on the issues that are near and dear to our individual hearts, but on issues that affect every citizen in this state.

Health care — Missouri must reestablish the coverages once available and now denied under the Blunt’s welfare reform programs. We must expand coverage to the working middle class who, increasingly, do not have health coverage available through their employers.

Jobs — Missouri must do more to attract and keep not only professional jobs in the state, but the blue, white and pink collar jobs that employ the majority of the working middle class. We have lost as many jobs as we gained in the last year, but most of those gained were in retail, and retail does not pay a living wage. One hundred fifty percent of poverty for a family of four is only $15 an hour.

Control of Interest Rates — Not only controlling and limiting the interest rates for current homeowner mortgages in an attempt to ebb the ever increasing number of foreclosures, but the rates charged on credit cards as well. Both situations are killing the American dream. Creditors should never be penalized by their clients because of the fluctuations of the housing market or the economy.

These are not Republican or Democratic issues. These are not conservative or liberal issues. These are issues concerning the health, welfare and prosperity of this state and it citizens. Is such cooperation possible? It certainly is. Will it happen with the change of government in 2009? I certainly hope so. Let’s wait and see.

David Rosman is a corporate communications consultant, professional speaker and college instructor. For more information, go to www.DavidRosman.com. He also welcomes your comments at ProfDave1011@netscape.net.

 


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