Politics are funny. They just are. But there’s a time for joking around and a time to get serious. And right now it’s time to get serious already.
Look, I’ll laugh at politics all day long. I don’t care which side of the aisle is pulling political pratfalls, I’ll poke fun. I usually avoid the obvious but, sure, I made jokes about Anthony Weiner. I’ve made jokes about John Boehner. (Those jokes all kind of come from the same grab-bag, don’t they?) And most of the GOP candidates are perpetual punchlines. Um … sorry. Oops.
Laughing about it is fine and healthy, especially if you work in politics. It also helps our economy by keeping more comedians working.
But seriously? What’s going on in Washington, D.C., just isn’t funny anymore. Millions of Americans need jobs, or better incomes, or help with a thousand other things we simply aren’t helping them with as much as we could be. That’s nothing to laugh about.
The President has proposed The American Jobs Act (AJA) to get things moving. Yet the Republican party flat-out refuses to discuss the AJA. Won’t even talk about it, other than to say they won’t talk about it. I’ve asked plenty of people: “Why won’t they talk about it?” The only answer I’ve heard was a quote I read from John Boehner, saying the GOP is against the jobs bill because it’s “paid for with tax hikes which ‘will hurt [the] economy and put Americans out of work.’ ”
Aside from the fact that Speaker Boehner’s comment is misleading — because the tax increase would only be on the most wealthy Americans and the AJA would also be paid for with spending cuts — that simply isn’t a good enough reason to not even spend time talking about it in the House. I desperately want to write a comedy sketch where Speaker Boehner says to House Republicans, “Should we debate the American Jobs Act and tell Democrats what our concerns about it are? Nah, let’s just reaffirm our country’s motto as ‘In God We Trust’ instead.”
Sure, if I pitched that sketch it might make it on a comedy show. It’s funny. But when you realize that the House actually did put the motto before jobs in real life, it’s no laughing matter.
Neither is some of the other legislation that’s been prioritized before any discussion of the AJA. Limiting or eliminating women’s access to healthcare and birth control. Rolling back regulations that protect people and our environment. Or how about spending time meeting with Herman Cain during the first week of his alleged sex scandal instead of being on the House floor? And, to be fair, the Senate isn’t much better. For the most part, they basically keep voting on what I like to pretend they call the “We Have Our Fingers In Our Ears And Just Don’t Want To Hear About The AJA” rule. [Update: After this was posted, the Senate and House voted in favor of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which the President signed into law on November 21. It’s one small part of the AJA, with tweaks. A step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough.]
There’s a fine line between funny and frustrating.
Clearly, voters in the November 2011 elections were serious about making their voices heard: They are not amused.
Still, there’s much, much more to be done. It’s time to stop playing games and get to work. The President is taking every possible step. But what did the Republicans do when he introduced his legitimate “We Can’t Wait” approach to taking action? They turned it into an attack. Reince Priebus actually tweeted “#WeCantWait to make [this] a one-term president.”
I guess we should thank Priebus for making the Republican agenda clear. (And for giving us such a great name to mock.) I’m sure he thought he was being clever and funny in his tweet, but he wasn’t. It wasn’t just the President he disrespected. It was also the millions of Americans who need the help of the officials they elected.
Is everything the President and the Democrats do perfect? No, of course not. Is everything the Republicans do wrong? No, of course not. There’s both good and bad in every group and everyone. Our elected representatives are all human and imperfect, something they have in common with every one of their constituents.
But when it comes to job creation and getting the economy back on track, it’s time to stop fooling around. It’s time to get serious and get to work. The two parties have got to get together and sort this out already.
Anything else is just a joke. And one that isn’t even remotely funny to the American people.