Budgets & Broccoli

Categories: DC Politics
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Published on: April 12, 2011

We all grew up on them. It was a staple of our childhood. Almost as if a right of passage from being forced to eat green sludge out of a can to eating malnutritious substance that would later shape our diet and lifestyle for years to come. I speak of the McDonald’s Happy Meal. Now, this Happy Meal is in dire straits, for a New York City Councilman, Leroy Comrie is on a mission from God to put an end to the sanctity of instant gratification we would all receive upon finding a toy in the same bag as our Little Big Mac and fries.

Why would anyone do this, you ask? Because we have grown too obese as a nation, ironically states the 335 lb. statesman. Perhaps Comrie has had too many of these meals himself, searching for that elusive Pink Mighty Morphin Power Ranger to complete the entire set? Or, perhaps he’s heard enough of his wife’s bitching about how their kids aren’t getting enough veggies each day. So, the plan is not to do away with the toys. Oh, you can have the toys, little ones. You just have to down some broccoli or some squash first. And what better place to get some fresh, organic vegetables than McDonald’s, eh? Well, I’m sure it will do this nation (or at least the city of New York) some good to give children a ‘real reward’ in eating their veggies, but seriously, I doubt that Comrie was thinking about this when he drafted the bill. Personally, my opinion is that once the bill passed, he could run home, walk into the kitchen and say to his wife, “Don’t you ever talk to me about serving the kids vegetables AGAIN.”

However, despite where this city councilman’s true reasons for action may lie, it’s far better than the legal and political machine witnessed in DC. The District is, of course, the capital of the nation and carries a bit of political clout, even though its residents are subjected to taxation without representation. Due to the seat of governmental power that resides in the District, a huge machine of rich, power hungry, rich, always fighting, absurdly rich corporations and political action committees set their sights on Capitol Hill and send their army of lawyers and lobbyists in an endless onslaught to attack what could rather be quick and painless lawmaking. Because so many different groups want it their way, bills often end up in stalemate or come out as a horrible abomination of its first depiction. For example, last year’s NYT article on how we’ve completely missed the boat on an affective climate bill because all the energy companies finally swooped in with their money and lobbyists and destroyed what the original idea was.

This was, surprisingly, not unlike what has just transpired in the past week. Big threat of Government Shutdown, right? For one, most of us, even in DC, were scratching our heads, going, “What the hell does that mean? The Metro will still run, right?” When the Federal budget comes to a stalemate, you would think that both sides just can’t agree on some MAJOR part of what goes into the bill, right? Hold on, I need more emphasis on that last part…

MAJOR part.

Well, it turns out that here in DC, the kink in the chink happens to be that while our city has its own municipal government, its “budget falls under Congressional review.” And today would not be the first time in recent memory that one of our mayors would be arrested for ‘acting out.’ (The other being the cracktastic Marion Berry.) Today’s mayor, Vincent Gray, decided to get pissed and protest in front of the Capitol steps today because he learned that one of the budget compromises would be that DC no longer received any Federal support for abortion clinics, which may be thought of as a necessity in our inner-city neighborhoods. As it were, the Republicans have been gunning to get Planned Parenthood out of the national budget, mainly because of a LOOOONG list of anti-abortion lobbyists, including former House member Bart Stupak, who now works for Venable, LLC, right here just down the street from me. But when the Democrats knocked the GOP back just as hard, the only concession they could get was no more abortion funding to DC.

What seems absurd about the Republicans’ steadfast charge of knocking out Planned Parenthood is that only 3% of the services of PP are abortions and the Federal government only provides funding for the other 97% of services. In the words of Dakota Student, “obviously, there is a lack of factual evidence being used.” Well, as if that’s anything new. In my own estimation and experience with politicians, I’ve noticed that most legislators these days really don’t make decisions up on their own. They may deliberate on whether to eat the cornish hen or the flounder for lunch all the way THROUGH lunch, but put a little bread in their pocket and they’ll make sure the US owns the Moon. So, because of lobbyists, PACs, and, of course, illogical ideals, we have our mayor in jail and our entire government on the brink of having the light switch thrown off. Soon, we’ll all be wishing the Senators would argue over something like putting veggies in our Happy Meals.

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