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Congress fiddles while money burns

Want a frustrating pastime? Hold your ear to the door of the "Special Budget Committee" meeting in Washington. Listen carefully, for among the din of partisan outcries you will hear a continuing chant, "End entitlements, end entitlements ..." Next you will hear the fervor increase as the entitlements are identified as Social Security and Medicare. Handle them and the country's financial troubles are "washed away."

Keep listening for what you don't hear, fraud in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, and special government programs and grants. You don't hear any real interest in dealing with those issues. Then there is a deafening silence when it comes the sntitlements Congress has always voted for itself, frequent adjournments (can you spell "vacations"?), special family medical insurance plans, a retirement system that would be the envy of any non-congressional working person, and other perks to which we are not privy. Add to that our allocations to foreign aid, which should be based on zero-base budgeting. Bottom line, we are expected to trust a Congress with an approval rating that would get them all fired if they were in regular jobs where positive performance is a priority and a necessity as well.

The United States has suffered one downgrade in its credit rating and may be in danger of another if we continue to ignore, and/or sidestep our financial crises. Congress seems to consistently demonstrate its impotence when expected to deal with budgets, especially when the expectations involve reigning in spending, confronting fraud and taking action on critical issues rather than focusing on self and Party to the exclusion of all other concerns. Now we hear that, with just a few days left to make definitive budget cuts, the Super Committee is considering changing the rules under which it operates, extending the date they are required to act.

From my generation there is a song, "Until The Twelfth oF Never." I would personally vote that song become designated the nation's congressional theme song.

ALLAN W. RUSSELL,

Leesburg