The Senate Grand Canyon
December 30, 2013
With mounting frustration toward the federal government in general, Wyoming Senators John Barrasso and Mike Enzi explained the core issues while speaking at the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB) Annual Meeting in Cheyenne on Nov. 16.
"I received an interesting letter on how many people are pulling the wagon and how many are riding in the wagon now. We understand what farming and ranching does in this country. It is farms and ranches, the trucking industry, private business, etc. pulling the wagon and the government in the wagon. Can you imagine what would happen if the private sector shut down liKe the government did? The government better be thinking about that," began Senator Mike Enzi of the extreme lack of leadership within the federal government.
Senator Barrasso echoed his statement, noting that the shutdown was preventable, but not encouraged by the White House.
"The president was eager for a government shutdown," stated Barrasso. "He follows the polls and knew the republicans would be blamed and he could point the finger. It hurt our national brand and he knew that."
What the president was perhaps not as prepared for was the impact Obamacare would have on his brand.
"People understand this is a terrible, unfixable law. The fundamentals of it aren't fixable, and the website failure is just the tip of the ice burg. We will see more cancellations and premiums going up. The identity theft and fraud is real. I have great concerns for the patients of this state," noted Barrasso.
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Enzi added that the website was only beta-tested for 26 hours before it went online, and that democrats and republicans alike asked for the list of those who did the testing. A list was never received. Computer programmers told Congress it should have been tested for between six weeks and six months, and that hackers should have been hired to see if they could breach the system before it went live.
"They did none of that, and we are now encouraged to warn you that there are a lot of people trying to get your identity. We've also been hearing on this issue in the Finance Committee, and one reason these hearings have been so intense is an amendment that put us all under the bill just like the rest of Americans. The President has tried to exempt us, but we are really pushing back on this issue and that his people find the real problem," continued Enzi.
The current environment on the Senate side of Congress is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of being a conservative Senator according to Barrasso and Enzi, who both stated that attempting to work with Harry Reid and his philosophies are ineffective at best.
"There is this divide on the Senate side deeper than the Grand Canyon. We just do deal making instead of legislating. How deal making works is an appointed committee of 6-12 people are sent off solve a problem for the whole 535 of us, and they put a deadline is put on it. In this case Jan. 15 for spending and bills, and we want it done by Feb. 15 for the debt ceiling. Then these people, with no authority, are supposed to go off and work it out, and a crescendo of media follow and ask all the questions, and that grows as you get toward the deadline date. On that deadline date you either have to vote yes or no on what they came up with.
"No small group ever has the capability of covering everything for everybody; that's why we have a legislative process, and why we have so many people in the U.S. Congress," explained Enzi of one major misuse of the legislative process causing so many conservatives to vote not to pass legislation brought before them out of these small committees.
A concept called "full discipline" is another serious issue on the Senate side implemented by the democrats, which says if a Senator doesn't vote with the leader, Harry Reid, they lose their committee chairmanship, sub-committee chairmanship or their choice of committee.
"Sometimes that makes us look fragmented, but I can tell you we are solidly understanding of what farming and ranching does in this country, and that John, Cynthia and I work as a team," explained Enzi.
Barrasso added that he hopes the voting public will realize the issue in their home states, and ideally change the balance of power in the Senate upon the next election.
"Our problem is the numbers are not working in our favor, but what is helping us is more and more people's understanding that the current system won't work. Our job remains to really listen to you and what is on your mind. That is where we get the best ideas to use in Washington," concluded Barrasso.