Category Archives: U.S. Congress

Uncivil discourse

Sen. Tom Cotton, center, and Rep. French Hill at the town hall.
By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

There’s regular intelligence, and there’s emotional intelligence, which is the ability to recognize and control your own emotions and to influence the emotions of others. If you’re a member of Congress, you need both, but if you’re a member of Congress participating in a town hall, and you can only be blessed with one, it’d better be emotional intelligence.

I write that paragraph after attending Monday’s 2 p.m. raucous town hall hosted by Sen. Tom Cotton and Rep. French Hill, where it didn’t matter what kind of intellectual arguments they made because they weren’t going to change many minds among the 750 attendees – some of whom totally supported them and many of whom were totally opposed. All that mattered was that they kept their cool amongst the booing, jeering, shouted interruptions and personal attacks, and they did.

British States of America

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

In 1776, the United States declared its independence from the British monarchy. In 2017, the United States government looks like the British Parliament.

In Britain’s parliamentary system, there aren’t really separate legislative and executive branches, and partisanship is designed into the system. Voters elect members of Parliament (MPs) based largely on the MP’s party affiliation. The party winning a majority (or leading a majority coalition, because there are more than two) forms a government. The party’s leading MP becomes prime minister – currently Theresa May, who represents the town of Maidenhead. Other leading MPs administer parts of the government, much like our Cabinet. The other ruling party members, known as “backbenchers,” go along with their leaders on important matters unless they feel compelled to engage in a “backbench rebellion” – enough of which can bring down the government. The minority party, meanwhile, functions as a loyal opposition with limited power as it awaits the next election.

Reform instead of repeal and replace

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

After the American Health Care Act failed in the House Friday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said this: “I don’t know what else to say other than Obamacare is the law of the land. It’s going to remain the law of the land until it’s replaced. We did not have quite the votes to replace this law, and so, yeah, we’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”

For seven years, Ryan and other Republicans, including Arkansas’ congressional delegation, have said Obamacare is ruining the health care system – and by extension, the rest of the country. But once they gained control of everything in Washington, they obviously did not have a replacement ready, spent a total of 18 days debating a very bad one, held one vote and then announced their focus will now be on tax reform, though now they’re talking about revisiting health care again.

We won the lottery, but who bought the ticket?

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Should welfare recipients be required to pay back the state if they win the lottery? Maybe the better question is, should all of us?

Those questions came to mind after hearing a presentation by Rep. John Payton, R-Wilburn, of his House Bill 1825 before the House Rules Committee at the State Capitol Wednesday.

The bill would require lottery winners to reimburse the state for their last 10 years of Department of Human Services benefits, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly the food stamp program.

Payton said the lottery is a bad deal for poor people, who gamble their sparse dollars with the odds stacked mightily against them. This arrangement would make them think twice about doing that and remind them that their benefits come from the taxpayers.