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The solution or the problem?

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Even for the keenly interested, at this point, the incessant tattoo of political commercials begins to sound like the hum of the refrigerator — just so much background noise.

Is there anyone in the country unable to recite the blue, red and tea-colored catechism? Are there truly “undecided” voters in late October? The rhetoric is just that: rhetoric. The slogans are hackneyed and worn and seem — with apologies to Dylan Thomas — to be used the way a drunk uses a lamppost: more for support than for illumination.

We have a leadership vacuum. When we need forward-looking ideas, we instead get one side making McCarthy-like accusations about foreign money being used to fund so-called “advocacy” advertising. No facts are needed, just hurl the accusation. Not even the most optimistic pollsters believe Republicans will achieve a veto-proof majority, yet there is talk about repealing the new health care law.

That begs the question: Even if they could overcome the inevitable veto, what will replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act? Paul Ryan and others have offered ideas, but the party “leadership” seems to have banished them to the role of cardboard cutouts at photo ops.

Recent discussion of “economic recovery payments” to Social Security recipients seems, somehow, to crystalize the overarching problem. Inflation this year is not great enough to trigger cost of living adjustment payments, yet the White House and Congress are falling all over themselves to make $250 “economic recovery payments” to seniors in lieu of the cost of living adjustment increases.

The compact we entered into with Social Security doesn’t offer “consolation” payments, and there’s been no huge outcry from recipients, but in today’s “pander to a powerful voting block” universe, this seems almost too expected.

In 1966, psychologist Abraham Maslow wrote, “It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

Indeed. If the political class wants to regain the trust and respect of the American public, they should stop creating problems that fit their solutions and get back to creating solutions that resolve our problems.

Check out more blog entries from David Saltzman.


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