This is the only scandal Congress should be investigating:
"Any way you measure it, quantitatively it stands out as an unusually unproductive session of Congress," said Thomas Mann, a Brookings Institution scholar and coauthor of a book on legislative dysfunction, "It's Even Worse Than It Looks."The dereliction of duty by Congressional Republicans is solely responsible for this Congress' being the most unproductive in American history. While the Republican Congressional majority perfected the art of doing nothing, millions of Americans had their lives and families negatively impacted or otherwise put at risk by their indifference or inaction. What I would suggest is that rather than attending the farcical Republican PR exercise on Benghazi, an issue which most Americans hold little or no interest, House Democrats instead hold competing hearings addressing the failures of the Republican caucus, the colossal waste of taxpayer resources caused by their intransigence and their failure to legislate, and the consequences of these failures to the country and its citizens.
"The problem is not the number of bills," he said, "but what Congress specifically did that ended up inflicting harm rather than creating conditions for improved performance."
As the GOP will not agree to these hearings and maintain control of the allotment of meeting space, I would suggest that Democrats first seek an appropriate venue--and when that fails, obtain an offsite venue to hold these hearings, inviting a wide variety of media to cover them. Republicans will be invited to participate in the hearings, but their input will be limited in the exact same way as Republicans propose to limit Democratic participation in the Benghazi hearings.
The hearings will open with a discussion of gerrymandering on both the national and state level and the effects of such gerrymandering on the democratic process. Democrats will explain how legislative districts are drawn to ensure "safe" Republican districts and thereby pre-ordain to a large extent the makeup of the Congress, even when the popular vote would otherwise put the Democrats in the majority. A presentation of the role of SuperPACS, "shell" groups, the "Tea Party" and its origins and in particular the contributions of conservative billionaires will be detailed, along with charts and Powerpoints that demonstrate their networks, interests, and origins. Witnesses will be called who will discuss the outsize role of corporate money in politics and fierce Republican opposition to Democratic attempts to rein it in. Particular attention will be paid to recent rulings of a conservative, Republican-elected majority of the the Supreme Court in fostering the current environment.
I: The Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare")
The primary focus of the House Republican caucus has been the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. In point of fact they have voted to repeal the Act over 50 times. Accordingly, Democrats should be prepared to present 50 witnesses to attest to how the Affordable Care Act has improved (or in some cases, saved) their lives. Each of one these individuals would have had his health care stripped away by the Republican Party. House Republicans will be invited to present, subject to examination by their Democratic counterparts, their alternative Plan(s) to the Affordable Health Care Act, how such plans will be paid for and how they will affect the budget deficit. Republicans will also be invited to provide specifics as to how each of the fifty witnesses whose health would have been imperiled would have fared had they succeeded in their efforts to repeal the Act.
II: Government Shutdown/ Debt Ceiling
Opposition to the Affordable Care Act was deemed important enough by the Republican Party to justify shutting the government down for a period of two and one half weeks, from October 1-17th, 2013. The effects of that shutdown on Federal government operations, the collection of Revenue, businesses, non-profits, the District of Columbia, Asylum and Immigration, domestic violence shelters, Title IX investigations, children's programs, foreign policy and national, state and local economies will be examined.
Many members of the Republican House threatened, either obliquely or overtly, to force the US government to default on its debts. The Democrats should be prepared to discuss the potential impact of a debt ceiling default and assess the culpability of the Republicans in the House who brought the nation to the brink of an extraordinary economic debacle. Republicans will be invited to provide justification for their position.
III: Failure to Act on Job-Creating Legislation
The House Republicans failure to act on job creation will be examined, with specific reference to the House and Senate obstruction of the American Jobs Act along with seventeen other jobs related bills proposed by the President to assist job growth in a troubled economy. Democrats will present the viable job alternatives they have raised but which were not voted on by the Republican House. The examination will be conducted in the context of meetings held by House and Senate Republican leaders shortly after the inauguration of President Obama where it was essentially determined to sabotage the American economy for political gain. Democrats will present witnesses and analysis by several economists.
IV: Failure to Act On Immigration.
In June 2013, the Senate passed sweeping immigration reform, expecting the House to act. It did not. Instead the House determined to not even attempt to pass immigration reform until at least 2015, where its prospects remain dubious. This failure has had a drastic impact on both individuals and families, as well as many corporate interests. Democrats will detail their efforts to promote immigration reform in the face of GOP opposition. Witnesses representing the various interests impacted by the GOP failure will be called and provide testimony.
V: Failure to extend unemployment benefits
The Republican House has failed to extend unemployment benefits for the long term unemployed unless commensurate cuts are made to programs which collectively make up what is described as the "social safety net." Democrats will call witnesses to testify regarding the effects of this Republican failure on their lives and families. Corporate executives making seven figure salaries will also be called to appear voluntarily to address the problems of the poor and their views as to the importance of social programs such as Food Stamps and Medicaid. Democrats will provide examples of their support for social programs and will detail specific Republican cuts to same.
VI: Austerity and Sequester
Democrats will call witnesses on a state by state basis with particular emphasis on Republican Districts who will attest to the effects of the "sequester" cuts on their lives. Military officials will also testify regarding the effects on military business and day to day activities. Individuals from various countries in the European Union will testify regarding the effects of economic austerity on their home countries. Finally, Economists will be called who will testify regarding the effect of such cuts on the overall economy and GDP. Democrats will propose viable budget alternatives that failed to receive a vote due to Republican non-cooperation.
I expect these hearings to last about a week. This is a tentative agenda only. Please feel free to add your suggestions.