Congress Fiddles While Wall Street Burns

August 18, 2011

It is said that Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

Could the same be said for our leaders in Congress, who currently are taking a "much-needed" five-week vacation from the rigors of their jobs in Washington, D.C., while Wall Street is burning?

At least Nero, upon learning of a devastating fire in Rome, returned to the city and undertook relief measures for the populace. Our Congress, after arguing incessantly for months regarding the nation's budget, came up with a plan that was suitable to no one, voted along party lines, then passed it on to the president, who reluctantly signed it on his way out the door to a birthday party.

Since the birthday party, the stock market has tanked, Standard & Poor's has downgraded our once-sterling credit rating, consumer spending has dropped, the European markets are in turmoil, and Congress is still on vacation.

Small businesses account for most of the jobs in the United States, and the National Federation of Independent Business reported recently that its Small Business Optimism Index dropped in June for the fourth-straight month. This does not bode well for an improvement in the jobs market in the near future.

Everyone is looking for relief from the stalemate in Washington while those in charge of national policy are -- you got it -- on vacation. The devastating financial news is not being taken seriously by the politicians we elected to watch over the U.S. economy, and it is inexcusable for Congress to have gone on vacation after what they have done financially to this country. It is time to get back to work and reinstate our good credit rating, fix the budget and stimulate our economy.

Congress did come back to pass a funding bill for the Federal Aviation Administration after the White House implored lawmakers to get the 74,000 FAA workers back on the job for the pending FAA projects that had been stalled. By the way, the U.S. government was losing $30 million per day in uncollected airline ticket taxes.

This is a very difficult economy that was slowly emerging from the effects of a nasty recession that began in 2008, and it is times like these during which our elected officials can show they are here to represent the people who elected them -- and to make the tough decisions.

Oh, by the way, the fiddle did not exist in 64 A.D. Nero's alleged tepid response to a crisis in Rome merely gave us the common phrase, "He's just fiddling around."

Dave Ryan is the executive director of the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. The opinion is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.

Read more:

« Back to News Section

2022 Annual Dinner Sponsors: