ESCANABA - Last spring and fall Congressman Benishek cried "Enough is Enough!" He promised a fresh approach, application of the Constitution, reduction of the deficit, and reading legislation. His fingers were crossed.
Mr. Benishek cuddled up to lobbyists and special interests before he took office. On Nov. 18, 2010, Political Action Committees and individuals were invited to be co-hosts at a Capital Hill Club "Debt Reduction Breakfast" for Mr. Benishek in Washington for $2,000 and $500.
Before the election, Sept. 15, 2010, Benishek held a fund-raiser at Valente and Associates, a lobbying firm in Washington, D.C. To go to lunch at Valente and Associates individuals paid $500 and political action committees $1,000.
Diners to these Washington fund-raisers were to call Andrew Theodore, an Alexandria, Va., political consultant. Not much of a Michigan connection.
The first order of business for Congress is to be sworn into office. Men and women who have joined the military remember raising their right hand and swearing their allegiance to the Constitution. Congress does the same.
The Constitution says that members of Congress "shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this constitution." When it came time to swear allegiance in the new Congress two members were AWOL. Congressmen Sessions of Texas and Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania were elsewhere. They were not sick or with an ailing parent.
Congressmen Sessions and freshman Fitzpatrick were in a visitor's center with supporters. There is some concern that political activity is not allowed in federal buildings and that Sessions and Fitzpatrick violated that rule.
Sessions and Fitzpatrick participated in votes, committee meetings, and debate. Although not sworn in Sessions presided over the House Rules Committee. The new Congress removed the AWOLs' votes from the record. Constitutionalists didn't reprimand the absentees for breaching the Constitution they just looked away from the intentional snubbing of the Constitution.
One of Congressman Benishek's first votes was the fix of the Sessions/Fitzpatrick snub. The I-Don't-Need-To-Follow-The-Constitution-Because-I-Give-It-Lip-Service snafu illustrates Congressman Benishek's partisan loyalty over his expressed independent Constitutionalism. Representative Sessions did campaign with Congressman Benishek in Harbor Springs.
While campaigning for office Congressman Benishek claimed that Congress didn't read the bills it passed. He seems likewise failed. He started his term by following the pack. He voted to raise taxes on small businesses, take away health insurance from young adults, reduce Medicare benefits, and increase the national debt by $230 billion.
Congressman Benishek co-sponsored the repeal that lied to the public.
The bill was called "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act." According to factCheck.org "When it comes to truth in labeling, House Republicans are getting off to a poor start with their constantly repeated references to the new health care law as "job-killing." factcheck.org/2011/01/a-job-killing-law/.
Mr. Benishek didn't promise to read legislative analysis. Perhaps that is the reason he voted on bill that raises taxes on small businesses, takes health insurance from young adults, reduces Medicare benefits, and increases the national debt by $230 billion. The text of the repeal of health care reform was a short leaving time for the Congressman to read the original health care act.
The Congressional Budget Office said the act will save America $230 billion. While saving money it closes the donut hole on Medicare prescription drugs, insures young adults, gives tax credits to small businesses providing employees with health insurance, and controls health insurance premiums.
If Mr. Benishek is pressed for time between fund-raisers and lacking time to read and analyze the law he voted to scrap, he might try nonpartisan sources like the Kaiser Family Foundation, www.kff.org/, or Daily Press writer/blogger, Mary Ann Heath. Ms. Health is slogging through the law section by section, an admirable, if exhausting endeavor. dailypress.net/page/blogs.listAll/display/19/Mary-Ann-Heath.html.
Mr. Benishek is more Same Old Same Old than he is Enough is Enough.
EDITOR'S NOTE - Richard Clark, Escanaba, practices personal injury law throughout the Upper Peninsula. He can be reached at uppermichiganlaw.com/richard-clark.html