Friday, June 29, 2007

Tony Phyrillas: The disconnect between politicians and the people

Has there ever been a bigger disconnect between the people and their elected officials?

Whether it's Harrisburg or Washington, D.C., the gap between what the people want and what their elected representatives are doing is a mile wide.

The majority of Americans want the U.S. out of Iraq. President Bush isn't listening, continuing with a failed strategy into its fifth year of the war.

Congress, controlled by the Democrats largely on their promise to end the Iraq War, doesn't have the backbone to pull U.S. troops out of harm's way. The Democrats who won last November on the promise to bring the troops home immediately have turned into doormats. Keep that in mind when they seek re-election in 2008.

The vast majority of Americans oppose amnesty for the 12 million illegal aliens in the U.S., but Bush and Congress are stumbling over each other to see how quickly they can offer amnesty and a fast track to U.S. citizenship for 12 million lawbreakers.

Americans want government to live within its means. Congress continues to spend billions on pet projects and pork. Nothing has changed since Nancy Pelosi took control except that Democrats instead of Republicans are now wasting our tax dollars.

Closer to home, in Pennsylvania, the state Legislature is days away from approving a $27 billion budget despite calls from citizens to control state spending and eliminate property taxes.

From 1990 to 2006, Pennsylvania's General Fund Budget increased from $12.4 billion to $26.1 billion -- an increase of 40 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars, according to the Commonwealth Foundation, an independent, nonprofit public policy research instituted in Harrisburg.

Over the same period, personal income increased by only 25 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars, according to the Foundation.And that's just the General Fund Budget. Overall state spending has reached $60 billion a year.

How can Pennsylvania's aging population afford to pay for government spending that has mushroomed to $60 billion a year? Many are selling their homes and moving out of state. Others who can't leave are choosing between food and heat. Young people, facing the prospect of high taxes and lack of good-paying jobs, are fleeing the state.

Gov. Ed Rendell has promised to reduce property taxes in each of his five years in office, but has yet to deliver $1.00 in tax relief to any of the state's residents.

One of the broken promises, the approval of 61,000 slot machines to eventually provide property tax relief, has taken an interesting twist. Rendell now wants the Legislature to divert part of the casino revenues to fund a $300 million arena for the Pittsburgh Penguins and expand the Philadelphia Convention Center.

Ask a retired couple barely meeting expenses if they want the casino revenue they were promised for tax relief to go to themselves and their families or to help corporate fat cats build sports arenas.

Fifty-five members of the Pennsylvania Legislature were tossed out of office or forced into retirement in 2006, largly as punishment for the July 2005 raid on the state treasury when the Legislature and governor gave themselves pay raises of up 54 percent. That wasn't enough to get their attention.

Too many greedy career politicians, including Rendell, were returned to office. More than 100 Legislators need to be voted out in 2008 to send a message to Harrisburg that the will of the people can no longer be ignored.

And all those phony reformers in the Democratic Party who won Congressional seats in 2006? They need to be booted out in 2008.

Tony Phyrillas

Tony Phyrillas is a columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa. He received a first place award for Best Opinion Column in 2007 by Suburban Newspapers of America. He was also honored for column writing in 2006 by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Copyright © 2007, THE CENTRIST Blog; All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

political forums said...

That's what happens under a two-party system. Less choices, you get to choose the lesser of two evils. A third party is not going to win either, and that's because the US Constitution promotes the two party system. The best way to escape this, in my opinion is to adopt proportional representation, like parliaments in European countries have. I'm not totally sure, but that's my take on the issue.