When I was a kid, I looked forward to the Olympics.
Even though I didn’t participate in any of the sports,
it the event was incredibly exciting to watch. I still
remember cheering in front of the black and white
TV when Peggy Fleming won the gold medal in
figure skating (a sport I know little about and have
Lately, however, I seem to have lost interest in the
recent evolution of what passes for Olympic-style
events. The mere thought that the Summer Games
is appalling to me.
Instead, the organization is trying to
make room for new
“hip” events. Host
countries seem to add
sports in which only
they excel to bolster
their medal count.
Should the Games
ever return to the
United States, my pre-
diction would be that
“can kicking” makes
its way to the Olympic podium. And why not? Capitol
Hill has aggregated some of the best can kickers in
the world — and they are all from the USA! Think
about all the government shutdowns, continuing res-
olutions and tax extenders, all due to Congress put-
ting off decisions til tomorrow that they are unable to
make today. And this is not a partisan observation, as
both parties have been equally guilty.
Like many issues that elbow their way to the top
of the congressional agenda in an election year (can
you say minimum wage increase?), the fight over
extension of unemployment benefits has become
the first issue du jour for the 113th Congress’ second
session. Clearly no politician enjoys the thought
of out-of-work constituents becoming homeless
constituents due to a legislative lapse on their part.
But the reality is that the money to pay for these
benefits has to come from somewhere.
To the layman, it would seem there is enough
bloat and fat in the federal budget to cut unnecessary expenditures to pay for more important programs like unemployment. I have lived on Ramen
noodles before and could do it again if I had a family
emergency that required a diversion of income. But
Congress doesn’t think that way.
Once money has been appropriated to programs,
they become “sacred cows” that cannot be touched.
This is why the federal budget is out of control. Yet
Congress is considering extending the unemployment
benefits for nine months and paying for it by requiring
some type of spending cuts ten years from now.
Seriously? Most of the members of Congress
voting on this plan won’t even be in Congress in 10
years when the cuts would have to be made. There
is no guidance as to where the cuts would come;
there is only the directive to make them later.
It’s almost as if Congress was being controlled by
the credit card industry. “Just keep spending…just keep
spending…live in the moment and don’t worry about
tomorrow!” And we all know how that game ends.
“And the winner of the gold medal for the inaugu-
ral Olympic can-kicking competition is…”
If this seems as crazy to you as it does to me, I
urge you to pay attention to votes like this
and remember them in November.
From Capitol Hill,
Lyle Beckwith is the NACS senior
vice president of government
relations. He can be reached
at (703) 518-4220 or at
return to the
would be that
makes its way
to the Olympic