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‘Take the job seriously’: Why Americans are fed up with Congress

Apr 4

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In March, U.S. public approval of Congress stood at only 15%. Americans have a wide range of concerns across the political spectrum, but what they have in common is a frustration with what they perceive as widespread dysfunction inside of the nation’s legislature.

In this 16-minute episode of America Speaks, pollster and political analyst Dr. Frank Luntz asks Americans to express their frustration and pinpoint where they think the problem is most acute. Their answers range from an obsession with reelection to a popular avoidance among Congress members of speaking hard truths or confronting hard choices.

Hello again, I’m Dr. Frank islands. And this week we turn the mirror on Washington DC, asking our panel, what frustrates them the most about the way Washington spends the way Washington taxes and most importantly, the way Washington operates. It’s a conversation happening right here, right now only on straight arrow news. Let’s get started. I am so glad that we can have this conversation because it is so important. And the fact that we can do so face to face is a nice change. Some of you here are Republican Senate Democrats, some of you are voting for Joe Biden, a few of you are voting for Donald Trump. But you all care about your country. And you all recognize that we have a challenge, a budgetary challenge right now. And that’s what we’re going to talk about. So the very first thing I’m gonna start with you, I’m gonna work my way all the way around the room. Give me a word or phrase to describe what words would you use to describe the United States of America?
Powerful, angry,
changing,
non functional,
a mess, declining, crisis. collapsing, massive debt, dysfunctional opportunity.
Political, hopeful,
this organized.
Said still
the greatest country on the face of the earth. money hungry capital.
Ambitious, yet declining.
A wonderful multicultural quote.
Okay, so we’re getting a lot of positives and a lot of negatives. I want to know, from the negative people, what concerns you the most who’s negative here? Okay, let’s go right across here. Why negative?
The inability to discuss ideas like this, seem totally absent from Congress,
concerned about Congress’s inability to pass bills and to take action and also the vitriol between the two parties. I
think it has to do with the elections put in and they’re constantly trying to get reelected in the running for that they get about the next election cycle. So whatever they do is a politics of addition rather than attrition. When it comes, it’s more of who do I have to give? What do I have to give to these people, in order to make sure in assures my reelection? And I think that has a lot to do with it?
Why can we address this?
Mostly because of the power of lobbyists and a lot of money going in there? ARP isn’t going to let anything change. I mean, just just to take one side of it, there’s just simply too much money in the city. Why is it getting worse, politicians
want to focus more on the short term benefit than a long term. Because of the election, they want to make people happy so that he can vote for them.
Initially,
the recent tax bill out of the house is a good example. The recent tax bill of the house is a good example. Both sides tolerated something that they didn’t like to get something they like, we ended up with two bad things added to a bill. The Republicans wanted accelerated depreciation. The Democrats wanted a refundable tax credit, both of those had cost. So they got both of them instead of neither.
Yeah, it’s it’s definitely that, that politicians don’t want to give hard truths to people that are trying to get votes from right because it’s unpopular. Nobody wants to hear, Oh, I’m raising taxes, nor does anybody want to hear the general public. I’m cutting this program, whatever favorite program, it may be, right? This is gonna sound a little mean, but I don’t view most politicians as being very brave, when it comes to that, and taking a stand a little mean being lazy. So if you get somebody who’s going to pander across the board, this is where you end up. One more
awesome piggyback off at that point, I think there’s an absolute refusal on one side in particular, that they just don’t want to get, you know, allow people to, like pay their fair share of taxes. There’s a lot of wealthy folks who are utilizing a lot of loopholes. And a lot of things are being funded on the backs of average Americans, average taxpayers who, you know, like work hard, and, you know, that’s, that’s, uh, you know, proportionally that that makes up a huge portion of their income. Whereas, you know, we have all these billionaires that are barely paying, you know, percentage wise, you know, their fair share of taxes. So I think that that would also help as well, but there’s an absolute refusal to
say politicians actually actually eliminate those loopholes. Yes, that actually existed in Rs. And the reasons why they may not be doing it is because there’s a very powerful tax lobby out there. So, so that, again, goes into the politicians maybe not being brave enough to do what is fair and right.
There, there’s kind of like a feeling of helplessness, like what can I do aside from voting to pay more taxes that other people are going to and myself included by voting? Like, you know, other people might feel the same way about, you know, why support, but if other people are gonna vote for people in Congress that aren’t going to take action on any of these things, either, then, you know, I think it’s just a vicious cycle. This is just gonna continue
what’s missing? Yeah,
I’m looking at the principles and values. And these are all great, and I agree with them all. But I’m concerned about those people that are already on the deal if they are competent enough to sit down and have make these negotiations and make these things happen. So
let me ask you the tough question. Are they competent enough to do this? Some are? Some are not what percentage are if I
had to put a percentage on it? I would say right now, today, it’s probably I would say 75% are not competent
enough. Three out of four, three out of four, who agrees with that, that a majority of Congress is not competent to address the debt? Raise your hands, if you agree with that a majority. So it’s the majority of participants? Why do you think it’s so bad?
Just print fishing, and they haven’t done it? I’m going for it fast. So I’m an ad.
Why do you think it’s so bad?
I feel like people is distracted. People, and I’m putting myself in this, people really don’t know what to do. It’s a lot of distraction in the air. People is not educated at home, my mother and talking about it, my father’s not talking about it. Nobody really knows the answers, but people is looking for somebody to do something. Good.
I agree. And I think part of it is if you look around the average American probably knows more about the Kardashians.
Go ahead. I feel like it’s a hard choice both for politicians and for voters, because eventually it is going to be hard, difficult personal choices, right? If you’re talking about cutting down health care spending, like that means you no more, you’re not going to have as much support for like your health care issues or your mom’s health care issues. And for politicians, it’s going to mean that they don’t have the money that they want to spend on their issues that they want to focus on. And so I feel like it’s when you were asking, is the Congress competent to solve this issue? I feel like they could, but there’s not the motivation there for them to
solve it. I agree. That’s exactly what I was gonna say. More so than a lack of competence. It’s an issue of like, political and moral border to that’s lacking. So if you talk to members of Congress, behind the scenes, they know this, they know. And I think a lot of them would agree with a lot of these things that we’re talking about here. And they are aware of, you know, the things that, you know, that they can do to fix this issue. But, you know, at the end of the day, a lot of them just get in line with, you know, their their party leadership. When
I hear motivation, I hear the term limits. I feel like that could possibly be the reason why a lot of these people aren’t motivated to make any changes, because they’re generally good. They have a nice, nice salary. And
just for the record, that’s the first time they’re chillin has been spoken in this place.
But yeah, absolutely. I feel like term limits, you know, drives motivation. Last
one. Yeah,
kind of goes along the same thing. Without term limits, you get a situation career politician. So the poll section of people in Congress and the Senate, that really not done much else in there, like I’ll pick out of the healthcare is Bernie Sanders has really been almost next to nothing of value. Its professional career, other than being a politician. I’m sure there’s others, he’s probably the most famous. If you don’t have the experience of having to make a budget and then something to do it at hassle level quite a different at a city level, a town level company, right? Very different kinds of things that can do it. Then what’s your if it is or your motivation to do it at this level, you’re probably just going to just make sure you keep getting elected. So you can collect not only money, but all the power and benefits.
Right? Well, this happens to be an election year and it’s not just an election year for president, which is obviously important, okay, but it’s also an election year. For a third of the Senate. It’s an election year for every house. Number All right. And part of the problem is, is that the elected members and candidates aren’t being pushed on this. All right? You said it before. And I agree, I think you said it, the first three words in the constitution of the most important, we the people, we the people are responsible and accountable for what does or does not happen. Because we have a republic, which is not a direct democracy, it’s a representative democracy. So we pick who goes to represent us, right. So we’ve got to put pressure on them to acknowledge this is a problem that needs to be solved sooner rather than later. And we basically have to make the price of doing nothing greater than the price of making cup choices. That’s basically what we have to do.
So I’ll make a point. We all live in this DC area, and we are all very close to this dysfunction. My favorite is when there’s a winter storm, or two non essential personnel don’t have to report. Well, you know, what, if you’re not essential, there’s a first place to cut right there. Because, again, if you run a business, okay, and you have not as a personnel that cuts into your margins, so if these people are all non essential, and I think there’s a lot of them. And again, dealing with the government on a regular basis, these people are absolutely not essential.
What’s your debit? Do you know the definition of non essential non national person’s gonna be nonsense? Well, okay.
Here’s the OMB does set out guidelines for who’s essential versus may do. And my understanding is it’s national security related to safety, public safety?
Well, people are essential. It’s
people that is decision makers. But that doesn’t necessarily dictate that those who are considered non essential aren’t essential employees. Right. So yeah, I mean, I get it, it’s, it’s, you know, it’s the verbiage of
graduate class. It’s just these professional government, people who know that there is no consequence for any action or action. It’s very difficult. I mean, again, private business, but I don’t hit my number two quarters in a row. I never mind my thoughts hanging out the window.
But it’s not the non essential person that signing off on the waste that’s happening across the government. So on those on the fraudulent thing, it’s not that person is most likely the essential person that’s doing the signing. So
I mean, people like that are kind of few and far between, right, like, people don’t value substance anymore. They value personality, and it’s become more of a popularity contest. And, you know, the loudest voice in the room that you know, and so that kind of politician is not, I don’t feel like that resonates today, as much. And that’s unfortunate. Because, you know, I know that there are a lot of people like that out there that that are effective managers that can help, you know, the government and cuccio spending.
You remember, Congress is sitting right here right now? What would you tell them?
compromise isn’t always a bad thing. But my member of Congress is extremely Democrat. I’m from MDA to do Congress as a whole, I would say that they have to fundamentally change like, not who they are. But that’s finally changed how Congress approaches issues, which one member can’t do? It has to be everybody.
What would you tell your member of Congress right now,
I think you have to focus on the budget, like across party lines, because once you do that, then you can start focusing on one particular like ideology. But it’s got to be like a basic thing that you can’t say, Democrat says Republicans need to be Congress plus,
based on the data that David showed us, this is a more acute and near term problem than global warming. Global warming may be real. This is more acute. I have a message for Joe also replace the two of you with Taylor Swift, and Kardashian. And that might make more sense.
By the way, I’m interested to know anything. I’m into that. What would you say to
my member of Congress directly? Take any one of your ideas that you think is the best, go find somebody on the other side of the aisle, discuss it with them and get a consensus agreement because that doesn’t seem to happen. And then that’s my message overall to all of us legislature.
I would say Hey, this is really a critical issue the budget or not even the deficit, we get the Civil War, you know, our our funding and war.
We’re adults treat us like adults. We know that tough decisions need to be made and, you know, lead us
I would say probably do better. Understand and Listen to your constituents. But more importantly, understand that listen to the facts.
I would say just in general for all members of Congress, I cut it out with like the made up cultural wars focus on the issues that affect each and every Americans like wallets, the kitchen table issues that affect all of us. I
would say one of the most important things they could do was start taking their jobs actually, seriously. Like what the dysfunction that we’ve seen in this Congress in particular, and the way some of these members act like these are not serious people who are doing a serious job, they need to really they need to take the job seriously before they can take this issue seriously.
I don’t know that I could say anything that would resonate, but I would, you know, this is, uh, you know, Lincoln referred to this as as a house. You know, I, I disagree with my wife on a lot. And but we come to consensus all the time, about a direction forward. And she’s different gender, she’s a different race. She has different a lot of different politics, but at the same time, we generally want the same thing. So like, you know, I’m sorry, you may not like AOC, or you may not like Marjorie Taylor Greene, but you’re you’re married to each other, you’re wedded to each other it for this house. And so you got to talk to each other like that.
The more they talked, the angrier they got, by the end of the session, our panels was ready to throw them all out right now and start all over again. Well, they in November, we’ll find out. But that’s all the time we have today. So on behalf of America speaks here at straight arrow news. Have a great day.

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