Archive for August, 2011

Open Letter to Congressmen Matheson

More politics.  But not heavy stuff.  You can handle it.

Dear Mr. Matheson-

You are my Congressman.  I don’t like it, because I think you’re doing a fairly lousy job, but you are my Congressman at least until they redistrict me into Congressman Chaffetz’s district later this year, so I thought I’d write and give you a suggestion for how to better do the job we elected you to do.

As you might have heard, there’s been some wrangling about the budget recently, and the size of the debt the US has incurred, and also about the deficit the budget is causing.  I know you have some ideas about those things, not that anyone is listening to you, because, let’s face it, you’re essentially invisible up there.  Nancy Pelosi knows she can’t count on you, and the Republicans have your face on a dart board as one of their best takeout targets in 2012.  Still, you seem a decent fellow, and this might be an idea you could use.

The Senate is supposed to pass a budget.  They’re…well, they’re not passing anything.  They haven’t passed a budget in over 820 days.  This is hardly your fault, and I’m not blaming you for it, and I’m even willing to admit the possibility that it’s just a coincidence that this 820 days or so begins about the time President Obama was elected.  This isn’t about pointing fingers at people; it’s about pointing out a direction to go.  So the Senate doesn’t have a budget.  In fact, Paul Ryan’s budget is the only one that’s been passed by EITHER house of Congress in a good long while, and it’s because I see that you voted “No” on that that I wanted to write this.  Clearly you have ideas about what the budget should be, since you said with your vote that Mr. Ryan’s budget isn’t it.

Why not produce a budget of your own?  You’re a “moderate”.  You’re supposed to be a guy that can get us all to sit together and sing Kumbaya, so I would think that if those things were true, your budget ought to be a pretty good one.  Can you show us what it is?

Actually, I have an even better idea.  You love town hall meetings.  I’ve been to them, and in my professional opinion, you’re extremely good at that kind of format.  Personally, I like you.  I don’t want to, but I can’t help it.  I think that’s true of a lot of people in our district, which is why you keep getting elected.  Why not combine your skills at town hall meetings with a “budget session”, and get us all together and craft a budget plan.  Utah Second Congressional District’s Budget Plan.  You can take it to the floor of the House, thump it down on the rostrum and say “l0ok, people, this isn’t that hard.  My district can do it.  We have a plan.  Where’s YOUR plan, distinguished colleagues, excepting Mr. Ryan, who gets a pass because he actually has one?”

I mean, that sounds to me like statesmanship.  I won’t like the plan you put there on that rostrum, because you and I have certain fundamental differences of opinion when it comes to government.  That’s okay.  I have a feeling that you’d listen to what I had to say before rejecting it, which is refreshing all by itself.  You have a fair number of radical elements in your district – they call them “Tea Party” people, as if there was actually such a thing – and this would be a good way to see if they have anything useful to say to you.  My experience is that we as a people tend to be pretty bright about this fiscal stuff.  You might learn something.  And we might, too, hearing your ideas.

Pass out a budget summary.  Have people mark it up.  Talk about what you’d like to see cut, and what you absolutely can’t live with eliminating.  Have a Budget Session, since the Senate seems incapable of it.  Don’t you think that would be a valuable contribution to the debate?  It isn’t like it’s over now that you raised the debt ceiling.  We’re going to hit it again, you know.  As a friend of mine put it the other day, raising the legal limit for blood alcohol level doesn’t make Congress any less drunk.  I thought that was a good metaphor, even in Utah.

So that’s my idea, and I know you’re unlikely to read this or to do anything about it if you did, but I wonder what would happen if a substantial number of Congressmen did this.  Can you imagine the fun of fifty or a hundred different budgets, all available online, all proposed and developed and marked up by the very people that are going to have to pay for them?  Doesn’t that sound like a legislative process with some substance, instead of empty posturing?

Well, it’s just an idea.  I’ll be seeing you, either way.  Thank you for listening, and thank you for doing whatever it is you do, because even though we’re not exactly seeing eye to eye on this stuff, I’m glad it’s you in that seat and not me.


Chris Jones, one of the Lehi people that can’t figure out why we’re in your district in the first place