Surely you recall Preston Brooks, (D-South Carolina) a member of the US House of Representatives who took a cane to Senator Charles Sumner, a party switching abolitionist from Massachusetts? In response to a speech that used sexual innuendo and mocked the physical handicaps of Brooks’ uncle, Brooks beat the Senator so severely it took Sumner nearly three years to recover. The incident was used to portray southerners as violent brutes, increased tensions between north and south and cost Brooks a $300 fine. Georgia named a County after him.
Now, no one should advocate violence against members of Congress, even if they are calling your uncle a whoremongering, stuttering cripple, or libeling your state, or even if they deserve it for some other good reason. It’s bad form and probably a federal crime. But there are times when one may wish the ghost of Preston Brooks would stalk the halls of today’s Congress delivering open-handed smacks upside the head to members who engage in irresponsible, unproductive blather that serves to merely make the other side mad. This week’s nominee for a visit from the ghost of Preston Brooks is Georgia Congressman Paul Broun, R-Athens.
In the midst of an increasingly shrill debate about our federal spending, Broun has introduced legislation to lower the debt ceiling.
“Today, I introduced a unique bill that goes in a completely different direction than everything else we’ve been hearing out of Washington. It would force politicians to start practicing what they’ve been preaching by lowering the debt ceiling from $14.3 trillion back down to $13 trillion. Admittedly, this is not your run-of-the-mill kind of law, but it would make it imperative for Congress to think outside of the box and come up with ways to pay off a portion of our debt while drastically cutting back spending.”
Democrats have responded to Broun’s bill with calm, rational arguments about the financial consequences of passing such a law, and have offered solutions of their own that include deep spending cuts and modest tax increases. Just kidding! They’re attacking him and calling him “idiotic,” “moronic” and a “troll.” The ghost of Rep. Brooks would surely be busy.
I will admit that Broun’s proposal is most definitely not your “run-of-the-mill kind of law,” but the author of any proposal that tries to force Congress “practice what it preaches” and to “think outside the box” probably deserves a head-smack just for overusing cliches.
There’s been so much overheated rhetoric about this debt ceiling I’m beginning to think it’s just fiction, made-up words about things that don’t really exist, like the “cost” of tax cuts, or the “value” of the US dollar. And Broun admits that his own bill would not actually lower the debt ceiling today, but “force” politicians to “make decisions” by “setting a deadline.”
Force politicians to get serious and make decisions? Oh, Rep. Broun, you kidder, you!
Where’s my cane?