A few weeks ago, the Republicans unveiled their 2014 agenda, and it was . . . nothing.
I kid you not. Here is how it was reported in Politico:
"Last Thursday, a group of House Republicans filed into Majority Leader Eric Cantor's Capitol office suite and received a blank piece of paper labeled 'Agenda 2014.' . . . A Republican aide . . . said . . . 'The problem is we don't know where we are headed . . . .'"
Many people saw the absence of an agenda as a problem. I think that it understates the problem. My concern is that the Republicans don't know where to go, not that they don't know how to get there.
To give you an idea of where they seem to think we should go, here are some actual bills that were actually introduced by actual Republicans last year:
- a bill to allow the states to nullify any federal law (didn't we settle that in 1865?);
- a bill to require every high school student to read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged (mandatory libertarian indoctrination -- oh, the irony . . . .);
- a bill to prohibit lap dancing and jello wrestling (which contained fascinating definitions of the terms "nudity" and "sexual device");
- a bill establishing a state religion (not Islam, that's for sure); and
- a bill authorizing restaurants, hotels, hair salons and other businesses to deny service to gay customers.
If you're trying to do stuff like that, then doing nothing is a massive improvement.
But more importantly, you just can't do nothing about nothing. You're always doing nothing about something. When the Republicans say that they have no agenda for 2014, then in effect, they're saying this:
"We're going to do nothing about the 20 million Americans who can't find full-time work."
"We're going to do nothing about the fact that America now has the highest inequality of wealth in history."
"We're going to do nothing about the fact that our military expenditures are roughly equal to that of every other country combined, even though we face no conceivable threat of invasion, and we spend approximately $50 billion spying largely on ourselves."
"We're going to do nothing about the fact that the United States has run a trade deficit of at least $350,000,000,000.00 every single year since 2000, with no end in sight."
"We're going to do nothing about the fact that the Arctic ice cap is disappearing, the release of methane greenhouse gas from tundra is snowballing ('snowballing' - hah!), and global temperatures may rise by 10 degrees by the end of the century."
"We're going to do nothing about the fact that there are so many corporate income tax loopholes that corporate tax revenue is at its lowest in 50 years."
"We're going to do nothing about the fact that according to some tests, American students have the lowest math scores in the entire world."
"We're going to do nothing about the fact that 434 out of 435 House Members and 99 out of 100 Senators raised most of their campaign funds from big donors [the only exceptions being Sen. Sanders (I-VT) and moi]."
"We're going to nothing about the fact that the federal minimum wage buys less today than it did in 1968, and the bottom 20% has a far lower household income today than it did in 1999."
"After we repeal Obamacare, we're going to do nothing about the 50 million Americans who can't see a doctor when they're sick." [The Republican healthcare plan: Don't Get Sick. And if you do get sick, Die Quickly.]
So it may seem that the Republicans are doing nothing about nothing. But they're actually doing nothing about everything. Whatever the problems we face, their infantile solution is always the same: close your eyes, and it will go away. Close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears, and repeat "La-la-la-la-la-la-la."
Will that work? No. All of these problems have solutions, but none of them is going to solve itself.
That's our job.
Rep. Alan Grayson