With all the election fervor, it's easy to forget how much Republicans can suck at their jobs. So take a break from considering suicide, and spend a moment appreciating how much our elected officials love abusing their positions for person gain.
Meet Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA). He heads up the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the House. For some time, he’s apparently been intent on pushing through legislation to “privatize” the FAA (but not really privatize it, just give control of it to some Fannie/Freddie-like entity run by unions and big commercial airline interests, a.k.a., cronies). He introduced said legislation this year, and it was initially predicted to be an easy win.
Except that it wasn’t. Now, Congress is looking at doing a short-term extension that nixes Shuster’s approach, which turned out to be a loser. Maybe he’ll come back and try to sell it again after this, but that dog probably won’t hunt, either.
There are a lot of reasons why this is so. One is that the bill actually appears to just hand over control of air traffic control to a bunch of cronies, and the air traffic controllers union loves it because it will do nothing to change the controllers’ pay or working conditions (usually one point of “privatizing” something).
But here’s the big one: Shuster’s bill just so happens to do exactly what his girlfriend’s employer (she’s a lobbyist for a coalition of big airlines, probably the most hated group of companies in America after big banks) has been demanding for years. And while Shuster claims she and her staff don’t lobby him personally (because, obviously without technical “lobbying,” he would have no idea what she/her group wants, or be inclined to deliver that result, right?), he’s been busted for having recently taken a swanky trip down to Florida with her and other airline industry bigwigs who desperately want his bill to pass because, hey, it entrenches their power and screws over their competitors.
The situation is so bad that the Pittsburgh Tribune has inveighed against Shuster in an editorial. Shuster also has a primary opponent who has been going bananas about this, and is now calling for him to resign over it all.
So there you have it folks. The status quo in government remains the acquisition of power and then the abuse of that power for personal enrichment. Shuster is the latest in a long list of congressmen happy to take up the torch of trading direct government spending with phony-baloney corporatist cronyism. Because one way or another, their friends have to get wealthy.
Perhaps the House GOP should be shopping for a different chairman?