April 29, 2013

George Will: Recent events in Washington show grown-ups are finally in charge

A sequester wake-up call and the failure of Obama's barnstorming on gun control are good signs.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, chairman of the Financial Services Committee, has told Richard Cordray not to bother. This is part of the recent evidence that government is getting some adult supervision.

Barack Obama used a recess appointment to make Cordray director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

But a federal circuit court has declared unconstitutional three other recess appointments made the same day because the Senate was not in recess.

So Hensarling has told Cordray not to testify before his committee: "Absent contrary guidance from the United States Supreme Court, you do not meet the statutory requirements of a validly serving director of the CFPB, and cannot be recognized as such."

Last week the Federal Aviation Administration promoted chaos in travel by furloughing air traffic controllers, supposedly because the sequester cuts -- 4 percent of its budget -- cannot be otherwise implemented.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., notes that the FAA says its 15,000 air traffic controllers must be furloughed in the same proportion as its 32,000 other employees, who include librarians, historians, speechwriters, PR people, congressional and White House liaisons, and many others perhaps less essential to the FAA's primary mission than are people in O'Hare's control tower.

On Friday, the eve of its recess, Congress fixed this problem, explicitly granting the FAA flexibility it already had. Then the legislators dashed to Washington's airports.

Amazing, the dispatch with which the government acts when its stupidities inconvenience the rulers as much as the ruled.

The rest of the sequester will still be administered so as to make the government as painful as possible to the public, in the hope that the public will support more spending by and for the government. Obama may think his powers of persuasion can convince people that as chief executive he is a mere bystander in this executive branch sadism. But about those powers ...

Obama has campaigned for Obamacare without making it popular and against Republican candidates without success in 2010. Still, his faith in the potent ointment of his words is probably unshaken by even the failure of his barnstorming in support of gun legislation almost weirdly unrelated to the event -- Newtown -- to which it was supposedly a response.

Last week, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Finance Committee, announced he will not seek a seventh term next year. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., Baucus' tax-writing counterpart, is term-limited by Republican rules as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. So the two most important people in the most urgent legislative project -- tax reform to ignite economic growth -- have parallel incentives to work quickly.

And if Democrats still control the Senate in 2015, Finance, the Senate's most important committee, probably will be chaired by Oregon's Ron Wyden, who has the intellectual power and political independence of such previous Democratic luminaries on Finance as Louisiana's Russell Long, Texas' Lloyd Bentsen and New York's Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

In a burst of the bipartisanship we are told to revere, a coalition of Republican and Democratic senators rose above party differences last week to affirm class solidarity. They moved toward a tax increase of at least $22 billion to benefit the political class at the state and local levels, supporting legislation to enrich state and local governments by subjecting Internet commerce to state and local sales taxes.

The Republican-controlled House should reject this tax increase because much of the revenue will be passed on to public employees and, through their unions, to Democrats' campaigns.

George Will is a columnist for The Washington Post. He can be contacted at:

georgewill@washpost.com

 

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)