Ben Cardin v. Dan Bongino: “Ben’s Priority Legislation.”

Friday, May 4, 2012

Hi. In four previous articles, the ones with titles beginning with “Ben Cardin v. Dan Bongino,” I’ve been making the point that Maryland’s incumbent U.S. Senator, Ben Cardin, who is running against political newcomer Dan Bongino, has failed to perform at a level that warrants his reelection. While Senator Cardin is a good, competent man, his long-term lack of productivity and failure to address our country’s highest priority problems are compelling reasons to vote him out, and Mr. Bongino in.

So, what exactly are these “highest priority problems” to which I keep referring? Are you kidding? Here’s my short list of what I think Congress should be working on like they were the second coming of the Manhattan Project, without the bomb part of course:

Unemployment, that people can’t find jobs. I’m including in this category people who have given up looking and dropped out of the labor force.

Underemployment, the fact that many people who have gone back to work are in jobs less demanding of their skills and experience, and paying well less than they had been making before they lost their jobs.

Structural economic and governmental factors which are adversely affecting private sector growth, the competitive strength of American companies in international markets, personal productivity and income.

Deficit spending, the irrepressible tendency of government to spend way more than it takes in, and then borrow the difference without regard to the financial or geo-political consequences.

Comprehensive tax code reform, personal and corporate.

What to do about entitlements.

The cost and availability of quality health care.

The quality and availability of public education and training.

Energy, its cost and, most importantly, curing our addiction to fossil fuels.

Campaign financing reform to level the playing field for candidates who lack extensive financial resources, but who have the skills and experience our government so desperately needs.

These are tough, complicated, interrelated problems, the understanding and resolution of which can be overwhelming under the best of circumstances. One could argue, in fact, that my list is too long. Maybe we should be spending all our time on just putting people back to work and on maybe one or two other items, leaving the others for when we can better afford to do something about them. In any event, absent adequate leadership from The White House and given the current lack of focus and common purpose in both the House and Senate, we’re not going to make any progress without major changes in our elected personnel. But then that is, after all, why we have elections.

You don’t like my list? Feel free to propose your own in a comment to this post. Yes, you may have other specific issues that need Congressional attention. I do too, but I’m putting them on hold in favor of investing every Congressional and Presidential resource at our disposal, on an emergency basis, to solve the problems I’ve listed above.

With this short list of major problems as a backdrop, let’s consider what Senator Cardin shows on his website to be “Ben’s Priority Legislation.” His words. After a brief introduction (“Throughout my career, …”), Senator Cardin lists 25 bills with respect to which he is the lead or cosponsor. Here are the titles of those bills, in the order he shows them. Go to the link I’ve just given you for a brief description of each of them. I added the status of each bill, according to – information which Senator Cardin’s website neglected to include. When a bill is showing that it was “Introduced” or “Reported by committee,” that step in the legislative process is as far as it’s gone down the road to enactment.

S. 1994, “Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevent Act.”
(Introduced 12/14/11.)
S. 1776, “Hotels for Heroes Act.”
(Introduced 11/1/11.)
S. 1670, “End Racial Profiling Act.”
(Introduced 10/6/11.)
S. 1669, “Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Act.”
(Introduced 10/6/11.)
S. 1193, “Federal-Aid Highway Preservation and Renewal Program Act.”
(Introduced 7/14/11.)
S. 1120, “Propane Green Autogas Solutions Act.”
(Introduced 5/26/11.)
S. 1039, “Sergie Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act.”
(Introduced 5/11/11.)
S. Res 185, “Opposing Palestinian Efforts to Seek Unilateral Recognition at U.N.” (Passed 6/28/11.)
S. 950, “ADHS Toll Credit Prohibition Repeal Act.”
(Introduced 5/11/11.)
S. 899, “Nutria Eradication and Control Act.”
(Reported by committee 7/13/11.)
S. 829, “Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act.”
(Introduced 4/14/11.)
S. 657, “National Blue Alert System.”
(Reported by committee 9/8/11.)
S. 538, “Reauthorization of the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act.” (Reported by committee 7/13/11.)
S. 488, “Reducing Excessive Interest Payment Act.”
(Introduced 3/3/11.)
S. 247, “Harriet Tubman National Historical Parks Act.”
(Reported by committee11/10/11.)
S. Res 90, “International Women’s Day Resolution.”
(Passed 4/3/11.)
S. 1088, “Retiree Health Coverage Protection Act.”
(Introduced 5/26/11.)
S. 871, “Ethanol Subsidy and Tariff Repeal Act.”
(Introduced 5/3/11.)
S. 587, “FRAC Act” (Cosponsor)
(Introduced 3/15/11.)
S. 586, “Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act.”
(Introduced 5/15/11.)
S. 562, “National Metro Safety Act.”
(Introduced 3/11/11.)
S. 555, “Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2011.”
(Introduced 3/10/11.)
S. 528, “Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act.”
(Introduced 3/9/11.)
S. 493, “SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011.”
(Reported by committee 3/9/11.)
S. J. Res 39, “A joint resolution removing the deadline for the ratification of the equal rights amendment.” (Introduced 3/22/12.)

Now you know what Senator Cardin does all day for $174,000, plus benefits, per year. Notice that only two of the 25 bills have passed, and they’re both resolutions. And that 24 of the 25 were introduced last year. Just one, this year. Maybe Senator Cardin is taking the year off to run for office? One thing’s for sure, he doesn’t seem to understand that introducing a bill isn’t as impressive as getting it passed.

Good, effective government is about setting the right priorities. In an emergency, when you’re hemorrhaging, you need triage, not cosmetic surgery. I look forward to the time when Senator Cardin’s concerns are at the top of the list of things we need to worry about, but that’s not where we are today.

No question about it, many if not most of the objectives of Senator Cardin’s “priority legislation” address important issues, matters we should be concerned about. That said, where are the big solutions? I dare you to find a single piece of Senator Cardin’s priority legislation that will make any material progress toward putting millions of un- and under-employed Americans back to work at jobs that pay what their skills and experience justify, that will balance our budget and control the costs of a runaway national debt, that will educate, train and protect the health of our people at the levels we should and can accomplish, not to mention the other items on my list. Go ahead, I dare you.

And you know what else? I dare you to put aside your personal list of special concerns, forget about party affiliation, hold Mr. Cardin and other incumbents responsible for the lack of progress we’ve made during his last five years and four months in office, and replace him with a competent, committed alternative (Dan Bongino) with a fresh mandate to get the job done. Ben Cardin has done nothing important to earn his reelection. Nothing personal. It’s only business. He’s had his chance. We’ve paid him very well, more than $1 million over six years, plus benefits, including vested retirement, but it hasn’t worked out.

Next contestant. ..Good luck, Mr. Bongino. If the people of Maryland, who are as smart an electorate as you’ll find anywhere in the country, are paying attention, if they put aside their party affiliations, think about how little Senator Cardin has accomplished over the past five years and make this election a business decision, you’re good to go.


For more on this and other related issues, be sure to visit my political blog,

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