As I said in my last post, it's been a busy month for the President. On this day, February 20, he has already been in office for one month and has managed to still maintain the country's attention. (It's not always the good kind of attention, but it is attention. #WeAreAllSweden. #RememberBowlingGreen.)
But today, I want to talk about that other branch of government, one that's a lot less popular. Give it up for the US Congress! 535 members, split between the 100-member Senate and the 435-member House of Representatives. The Senate is headed by VP Mike Pence (who only votes if there's a tie), and the House is headed by number 3 in line for the White House, Speaker Paul Ryan, Republican from Wisconsin's District 1. Former VP candidate. Guy who is partially responsible for Romney's bid for presidency tanking. Infamous for wanting to dismantle Medicare. And according to Queen Mom, with the country treating the president like a chimp on a unicycle, he has his chance. I disagree.
See, the current administration is not the Congress of Queen Mom's time. So much has changed since my mother first cast a ballot. No more must we wait for our news at 6 and 11. The rise of cable television meant not only the public access channel would live-stream Congress, but the Cable News Network (CNN) would provide 24 hour news coverage focusing on the entire world. (Yes, I know cable has been around since the 1940s, but few people really had it until the 1980s.) And CNN is not the only player in this game. Fox News and MSNBC have also joined in along with Internet reporting in real time. The only question is separating the truth from the not truth. CNN is still considered fairly reliable. And, having been derided as "fake news," they are no fans of the current administration. This includes the 535 members of Congress.
Congress is now being scrutinized from all angles. Unlike TV news, Internet news has the response button. Stories can be liked, commented on and shared within a matter of minutes straight to our phones. And now, the people can react within minutes, instead of saving up their frustrations for the ballot box.
"We're going to dismantle the independent ethics commission!"
"Like HELL you are!"
The Affordable Care Act, supposedly the first thing to go under the new administration, is still largely intact. No longer was the discussion about high rates and faulty exchange websites, but about twenty million Americans--voters and the children of voters--losing their healthcare. And this is a law enacted in 2010. Imagine the outcry if longstanding programs like Medicare and Social Security wind up on the chopping block. No one will do it because they will be out of office in the next election cycle. And unlike the President, who has four years to convince the country that he should be re-elected, the House has only two year terms. Paul Ryan has to think about how well dismantling Medicare will go over.
I don't imagine it will go over well.
Unlike the AFDC, which was all but dismantled in the 1990s (TANF, the law that followed, provides fewer protections and more limitations), Medicare and Social Security are not "poor people's programs." (which, to many, mean "black people's programs.) They are "everybody's programs." They are programs which middle-class, middle Americans rely upon for their retirement and healthcare for aging parents. Telling the under-55 crowd that they will not have the same assistance that their parents (or even in some cases, older siblings) have, will not go over well in Wisconsin's District 1. And, given how many members of Congress have come home to torches, pitchforks, tar and feathers already, I don't think anyone else will suggest it.