Thursday, March 4, 2010

Senator Bayh

Many people are wondering why Senator Evan Bayh from Indiana has decided to retire from the Senate. It seems incongruous that this still youthful Senator is making an exit especially at a time of momentous change in our country.

Over the years, I have written to Senator Bayh many times. Most of the time, I disagreed with his public positions. Yet, I always received a well-written answer. The letter I received from Senator Bayh about his retirement, among other things, went like this:

“In the Senate, I have continued to fight for the best interests of our state. I have worked with Hoosier workers and businesses, large and small, in the defense sector, the life sciences, the medical device industry, autos, steel, recreational vehicle manufacturing, and many, many more, to save and create jobs.

Since 9/11, I have fought to make our nation safe with a national security approach that is both tough and smart. I have championed the cause of our soldiers to make sure they have the equipment they need in battle and the health care they deserve when they get home.

I have often been a lonely voice for balancing the budget and restraining spending. I have worked with Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike to do the nation’s business in a way that is civil and constructive.

I am fortunate to have good friends on both sides of the aisle, something that is much too rare in Washington today.

After all these years, my passion for service to my fellow citizens is undiminished, but my desire to do so by serving in Congress has waned. For some time, I have had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should. There is too much partisanship and not enough progress -- too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving. Even at a time of enormous challenge, the peoples’ business is not being done.

My decision should not be interpreted for more than it is: a very difficult, deeply personal one. I am an executive at heart. I value my independence. I am not motivated by strident partisanship or ideology. These traits may be useful in many walks of life, but they are not highly valued in Congress.

My decision should not reflect adversely upon my colleagues who continue to serve in the Senate. While the institution is in need of significant reform, there are many wonderful people there. The public would be surprised and pleased to know that those who serve them in the Senate, despite their policy and political differences, are unfailingly hard-working and devoted to the public good as they see it. I will miss them.

My decision should not reflect adversely upon the President. I look forward to working with him during the next 11 months to get our deficit under control, get the economy moving again, regulate Wall Street to avoid future financial crises, and reform education so that all children can fulfill their God-given potential. This is the right agenda for America.

At this time, I simply believe I can best contribute to society in another way: creating jobs by helping grow a business, helping guide an institution of higher learning, or helping run a worthy charitable endeavor.”

A major bill that Senator Bayh supported (that seems not to be in the interest of Hoosiers) was the Stimulus bill that promised to create enough jobs to keep the unemployment rate down to 8 percent. As of January 2010, Indiana’s unemployment rate was 9.7%. Certainly, one of the biggest questions on my mind is “Where are the jobs, Senator?”

Yet, in spite of Senator Bayh’s compliments to his peers in Congress and to President Obama, there seems to be an edge in his leaving Washington that was not expressed in his letter. In an interview replayed on television, after he said that he looks forward to creating just one job in the private sector, he added that it would be one more job than has been created by Congress.

Apparently Senator Bayh has been reading his mail. The American people are angry and their message is clear: “Stop the spending. Just stop. What is it about ‘stop’ that you don’t understand?” And he knows that this incredibly high level of anger will be especially directed at a Democratic Senator in a conservative state where his opponents can take full advantage of it. He will not be able to frame the debate to his advantage in such a climate...the anger will be too palpable and drown his message.

Yet, I have some concerns about Senator Bayh’s statement. He says he has always sought what he thought was best for Indiana. But what does that mean? It doesn’t answer the question of what is in the best interest of his state. Read again what he said about President Obama: “I look forward to working with him during the next 11 months to get our deficit under control, get the economy moving again, regulate Wall Street to avoid future financial crises, and reform education so that all children can fulfill their God-given potential. This is the right agenda for America.”

How can anyone in their right mind believe that President Obama wants to get the deficit under control? What has President Obama done to give anyone the impression that he knows what will get our economy moving again? He certainly wants to regulate Wall Street, but how can accusing Wall Street for the fiasco be credible without also accusing himself, Christopher Dodd, Barney Frank, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the executives of these organizations, ACORN and the Community Reinvestment Act (fostered and strengthened by Democrats)?

And do we really think that the Democrats know anything about how to avert future financial crises when they do nothing but engage in crony capitalism, bailouts, corporate takeovers, tax increases, backroom deals and massive boondoggles that were supposed to create jobs? Finally, how can indoctrinating our children to support the Obama administration do anything to reform education? This is not a prescription for fulfilling any potential except the potential for a coming disaster.

Do you wonder why Senator Bayh is resigning? His philosophy is bankrupt.

Good riddance.

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