EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

January 18, 2014

Column: In Washington, it's tough to get past the doubletalk

In the nation’s capital, things are not always what they seem.

There is great excitement that an actual “budget” has been hammered out in Congress, averting another government shutdown. This is the first budget since 2011. Even though it is Congress’ job to devise an annual budget, this once-in-three-years development is hailed as remarkable.

Never mind that the budget permits the coal industry to keep dumping toxic waste in public streams although 300,000 West Virginians just went through days when tapwater was so poisoned it couldn’t be used for anything except flushing toilets.

Never mind that despite the 2008 recession caused by mismanagement by big money, government financial regulators such as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission will not get the enforcement money they need.

President Obama also has changed. He came into office pledging to work with Congress, including Republicans, to get things done. Now he says whenever he can get away with doing something by executive action without Congress, he will.

After Obama vowed that he will curtail overreaching by the National Security Agency, which has been spying on close U.S. allies and American citizens, it turns out the NSA has secretly put secret spying and cyberattack software on 100,000 computers.

And never mind that the government now uses drones not just against foreign dictators and terrorists but also for domestic surveillance. Growing marijuana may be legal in some states but in other states if you grow weed, a drone will catch you and authorities will whisk you off to jail.

In this country many think work determines who you are although just about everyone wants the respect that comes with having a job. And the government taxes workers to provide for compensation if they lose their jobs. But with three Americans in pursuit of every job opening, somebody is going to be left behind. Nonetheless, Congress cut off benefits to a million unemployed Americans saying they had been unemployed too long and that it must be their fault. Never mind that their families are now destitute.

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