I suppose everyone begins the New Year by making a couple of resolutions. Doing it represents a fresh start in a new time. I’m all for that. But my track record, I admit, isn’t very good.
Last year, for example, I resolved to lose 25 pounds, cut down on my food intake and jog five days a week. “How did it work out?,” you ask? Well, if you must know, by the end of January it was obvious I wasn’t giving up the food, and all that good eating left me too pooped to think about jogging the neighborhood. So, like most people, so they tell me, my New Year’s resolutions didn’t see Feb. 1.
So, for this New Year, I’m changing. I’m not going with any of those typical personal improvement pursuits. Rather, I’ve decided to make a bigger impact than reducing my waistline or junk food intake. I’m resolving to write to my two senators and one congressman in 2012 every time I find myself saying things like: “There ought to be a law,” or “What in God’s name do they think they’re doing?,” or “Can’t they do anything right?”
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty fed up with Washington. I mean all of them, including my own senators (Bill Nelson & Marco Rubio) and congressman (C.W. Bill Young). I want them to know they’re accomplishing far too little and what they say they’ll do always seems to vaporize by the time their plane lands in the Capitol. That makes them unreliable in my book, and I want to tell them so.
Here’s just one example: Last year they couldn’t agree on a plan to reduce the debt and deficit. So, they dished it off to a supercommittee. That group, befitting their positions in the U.S. Congress, threw in the towel in November – an absolute flop! So now what?
Under the “Budget Control Act” they passed that set up the supercommittee, the failure sets off spending cuts totaling $1.2 trillion that will “automatically” happen beginning in 2013. Sure, and I’m going to lose 25 lbs! I predict it won’t happen. And, here’s an example of why:
Another set of “automatic” deficit reduction cuts was passed by Congress in 1997 in the “Balanced Budget Act.” It included a provision intended to control Medicare spending by limiting Medicare reimbursements to doctors so those payments would not grow more than the rest of the economy. But doctors told their representatives they didn’t like that provision, so in every year since, Congress has simply voted to override any reductions. In fact, it just happened again last week, for another two months. Wanna bet what will happen then?
The fact is Congress shuns its fiscal management responsibilities when agreeing to “automatic” cuts and overriding them. It’s an incredible lack of leadership that also holds true for many other issues of interest to us, ranging from increasingly onerous tax and regulatory policies affecting small businesses to mandating science in our national fisheries policies, preventing a worse ethanol debacle or protecting our working waterfronts, among many others.
I, therefore, resolve in 2012 to take whatever time is necessary to e-mail and call my representatives in Washington to make known my views on issues affecting our industry and our economic future. It’s a New Year’s resolution I’m looking forward to keeping. I invite you to resolve to join me.
Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!