It's About Checks and Balances
Monday 23 October 2006
This November 7th, there is a strong argument for voting for process. Our forefathers set up three branches of government to insure that power would not be concentrated in the hands of a few. I am not arguing that under ideal circumstances one party can't effectively control all three branches and effectively exercise oversight. For that to happen, members of Congress would need to put the country ahead of partisan politics. In the current political climate that is unlikely to happen.
No matter what your position is on Iraq, as the costs spiral out of control, there has been a glaring lack of oversight from Congress. It is apparent to everyone that changes need to happen, but as long as Congress refuses to come forward and hold real oversight hearings and a real debate, the failed policies of the executive branch go unchallenged.
When we first learned that the NSA was spying on Americans without warrants, there was outrage from all sides of the political spectrum. After the tough talk subsided Congress didn't act.
When we first saw the photos from Abu Ghraib, we were all outraged. Once again, Congress has allowed the executive branch to police themselves. They even allowed one of the architects of the torture policy to be promoted to Attorney General. To top it all off, they recently passed the "Military Commissions Act" granting the executive branch powers to violate existing law when they see fit.
There is clear evidence that contractors like Halliburton, who have received special treatment, have charged us for services that they have not performed. Congress controls the purse strings and has not acted to cut off funds or penalize these companies for their misuse of our money.
It should also be pointed out that while many Americans are forced to work more than 40 hours a week, sometimes on more than one job, Congress was in session less than 100 days this year. They fly into Washington on Tuesday and out on Thursday afternoon. While the average American works more hours, this Congress raised its own pay for working less hours while refusing to raise the minimum wage.
In case after case, the Bush administration exerts executive powers that they do not have, and the GOP Congress rolls over and allows this abuse of power. The bottom line is the Republican-controlled Congress has failed to conduct effective oversight over the executive branch. If they are not willing to do their jobs then they should be fired.
When you go to the polls on November 7th, think about your candidate's ability to represent your interests, but also think about our country's need for effective oversight. The Republican Congress is not providing a check on executive power. In times like these, power in the hands of a few is a dangerous thing.
Scott Galindez is the Managing Editor of Truthout.