According to the 2022 election results at least, the Republican Party regained control of the House of Representatives. You could have fooled me. It can’t even seem to gain control of its own members. Recently in this space, I noted the low approval rating of Congress at 22%. Here are two sure-fire ways to drive it even lower: (1) fail to unseat seat George Santos (R-N.Y.), who won a close election in a Long Island district and (2) more Republican delays in getting its act together and demonstrating that it is actually capable of exercising leadership by getting down to urgent business, including those priorities I discussed in last week’s column.

Mr. Santos has admitted that he lied to voters about his background, education, work history and education. Stretching the truth to voters is common political campaign practice and gullible voters deserve what they get if they believe everything a candidate says without exercising some reasonable skepticism and digging deeper. But Santos did more than just embellish a resume. In most businesses and similar organizations, falsifying anything in an employment application, resume or curriculum vitae is considered lying and grounds for termination. Why should a person that does this to get elected get a free pass from Congress?

Santos lied about being a “proud American Jew”, graduating from Baruch College, working directly for prestigious Wall Street firms and relatives fleeing the Holocaust. This would have been grounds for termination in any of the organizations I worked in. Why should it be different in Congress where our laws are made and oversight executed?

Meanwhile, New York and national prosecutors are investigating and Democrats are calling for his resignation. Brazilian authorities have indicated that they will open an investigation into allegations that he committed check fraud in Rio de Janeiro in 2008. Is there anything else that Mr. Santos lied about or neglected to tell the voters about that we should know?

Republicans should lead the way in demanding that George Santos step down or be unseated even though it further erodes the party’s slender majority. Arguments by some Republicans that that some Democrats had also lied about past events and backgrounds are pathetic and do not excuse Santos whose fabrications went well beyond just padding a resume and about whom the only good thing that comes to mind is that he wasn’t endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

The other rapid route to near zero approval ratings is for Republicans to continue the behavior they have demonstrated in their first few days of attempting to establish control of the People’s House and failing to elect a speaker on the first ballot for the first time since 1923. Nothing much could get done until they finally-elected Kevin McCarthy on the 15th ballot. No one else seemed to want the job which has been likened to herding cats. Democrats watched, with amusement, another Republican circular firing squad. All they had to do to watch this latest attempt by the GOP to self-destruct was to show up and vote for their own minority leader. Meanwhile, the People’s House could accomplish nothing of the people’s business, including the swearing in of new members, many of whom had brought family members to witness democracy in action. What they witnessed instead was three days of inaction except for the occasional chaos.

Among the urgent priorities awaiting Congress are gaining control of the southern border, controlling violent crime and increasing the size of the military, especially the navy and air force, to deal with the growing threat from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Regarding the latter, Ukraine’s defense against Putin’s invasion is being largely funded by the United States and Europe with no end in sight. It is causing world-wide disruptions, a significant drain on U.S. and NATO military stockpiles and having a detrimental effect on our focus on Asia and the Western Pacific. Coping with, or hopefully deterring, the threat that the PRC poses to our vital interests in those regions will require a significantly larger military. As also noted frequently in this space, we currently lack the industrial capacity to rapidly respond to that need and the hour is late, given the lead times required. Both Congress and the Pentagon seem late in acknowledging this.

That appears to be finally changing as the Pentagon rethinks its policies on defense mergers. The number of firms capable of producing the ships, aircraft, missiles, fighting vehicles, etc. needed for a rapid buildup has shrunk significantly over the years and providing the investment necessary to restoring the infrastructure to support expanding the defense industry will require a firm commitment to needed force levels from the federal government, something which has been elusive. The hour is late and Congress needs to get to work now.

Mr. McCarthy finally became speaker but he sacrificed much power in winning the role and becoming the second in line for the presidency. A single member of the majority party may now move to vacate the speaker’s chair. He also pledged that domestic discretionary spending for FY2024, which includes defense, cannot exceed FY2022 levels. This limitation, along with strong opposition from doves in Congress will make it difficult indeed to effectively confront or deter the PRC’s ominous buildup and intentions regarding Taiwan. A sign of that opposition was revealed in a belligerent and inappropriate speech by minority leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) glorifying the accomplishments of the outgoing Democratic Congress before handing the gavel to Mr. McCarthy who, after showed great patience with what came across as a victory speech for Democrats, followed with a stirring acceptance speech, giving Americans with election fatigue some hope that civility, compromise and patriotism are back in style in the People’s House. We shall see. Actions speak louder than words.

VOL. 113, NO. 2 - Jan. 11, 2023

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.