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“Descending From The Mountaintop”: House Republicans Keeping The Faith

After preaching for weeks about the urgency of Washington taking action to create jobs, lawmakers decided to put their mammon where their mouths are. And so on Tuesday evening they descended from the mountaintop and came forth to anoint a jobs bill of biblical proportions:

H.Con.Res 13 — Reaffirming ‘In God We Trust’ as the official motto of the United States.”

The grace of this legislation, taken up on the House floor, was not immediately revealed to all. “In God We Trust” has been the nation’s official motto for 55 years, engraved on the currency and public buildings. There is no emerging movement to change that. But House Republicans chose to look beyond the absence of immediate threats and instead protect the motto against yet-unimagined threats in the future.

The legislation “provides Congress with the opportunity to renew its support of a principle that was venerated by the founders of this country, and by its presidents, on a bipartisan basis,” supporters claimed in their analysis. “This Congress can now show that it still believes and recognizes those same eternal truths by approving a resolution that will allow today’s Congress, as representatives of the American people, to reaffirm to the public and the world our nation’s national motto, ‘In God We Trust.’ ”

The infidel opposition took a rather different view. “We are focused on jobs measures,” said Brian Fallon, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “The House Republicans will hopefully get the message to do the same, God willing.”

In a dissenting analysis of the legislation, a group of House Democrats took a similarly skeptical stance. “Today we face the highest budget deficit in our nation’s history, a national unemployment rate of nearly 9 percent, and an ongoing mortgage foreclosure crisis,” they wrote. “American forces are deployed in combat on several fronts. . . . Yet, instead of addressing any of these critical issues, and instead of working to help American families keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables, we are debating whether or not to affirm and proliferate a motto that was adopted in 1956 and that is not imperiled in any respect.”

Then there’s the matter of whether Republicans violated their own promises by bringing up a ceremonial resolution and taking the God bill to the floor without a hearing. House GOP rules forbid suspending House rules to pass a bill if it “expresses appreciation, commends, congratulates, celebrates, recognizes the accomplishments of, or celebrates the anniversary of, an entity, event, group, individual, institution, team or government program.” (It might be argued that God, though an entity, is exempt from the provision.)

So what, pray tell, are Republicans up to? They can tell their constituents that they are doing the Lord’s work in the devil’s town. Because it is still too early to complain about efforts by the ACLU to snuff out Christmas, the In-God-We-Trust legislation provides a stand-in straw man. There’s certainly some appetite for this: Internet rumors proliferated after President Obama’s inauguration warning that he was seeking to remove “In God We Trust” from U.S. coins.

But it also conveys an impression to independent voters that, at a time of economic crisis, Republicans continue to focus on God, gays and guns.

Of course, there may be innocent explanations for the In God We Trust bill. “God” and “job” are both three-letter words with the same vowel. House Republicans may have been confused by the similarity, much like the dyslexic agnostic who wonders if there is a dog.

Notably, the House majority saw no need to protect the nation’s other motto, the one from the Great Seal of the United States that also appears on currency: e pluribus unum. But give the GOP credit for its tenacity: To continue to pursue social policies even while the nation cries out for economic relief requires the patience of Job — not to be confused with jobs.

In support of the God bill, the legislation’s champions quoted John F. Kennedy: “The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.” But they left out a better-known Kennedy passage, from his inaugural address: “let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”

By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, November 1, 2011

November 2, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, Economy, Elections | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“In God We Trust”: In Congress We Stagnate

The House Republican leadership is determined to keep the  chamber’s schedule to important matters, freeing up congressmen to do more  important things, such as attend committee hearings and spend time in the  district. That is largely a good idea, as long as it doesn’t keep members from  spending time together and learning to work together.

What, then, possessed House leaders to allow the  following onto the  Tuesday schedule for bills to be considered “under  suspension” of the  rules?

“Reaffirming ‘In God We Trust‘ as the official motto of  the United  States and supporting and encouraging the public display of the   national motto in all public buildings, public schools, and other  government  institutions,” the resolution says.

Seriously? Is there any practical importance of this  resolution? They  surely can’t force schools or even government institutions to  display  the motto. Schools in particular might be reluctant to do so, rightly   worried about offending students and their families who worship  different gods  or no God at all. Let them worship learning. Let them  trust in scholarship and  study.

But that isn’t the point of the resolution—and bills  considered  “under suspension” (meaning they didn’t got through the committee process and require a supermajority for passage) don’t tend to have  serious  policy implications. They are all about campaigning, often to  convince a voter  group—in this case, religious voters—that Congress is  on their side. And  they are also meant, at times, to convince voters  that the other party isn’t on  their side.

If Congress wants to earn the trust of voters, it might  try something  that requires a bit more heavy lifting—passing legislation  meant to  create jobs, for example, or coming to a compromise on legislation to   avert the automatic cuts in domestic and defense spending set to occur  if the  so-called “super committee” cannot find an alternative. “In God  We Trust”  might be a nice slogan on a coin. But when it comes to  healing the ailing  economy, the vaunted phrase is barely worth the dime  it’s engraved on.

 

By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, November 1, 2011

November 1, 2011 Posted by | Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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