Cancel the vacation

In one way, the Obama administration is conducting business as usual. The president’s drug “czar,” Gil Kerlikowske, was in Fresno for a pot bust last week, and he said that marijuana “has no medicinal benefit,” just as Democratic and Republican administrations have been claiming for decades. See how easy it is to lie about health care matters and get away with it?

As we knew it would be, this is a season of major lying. Drafting of health care legislation is before Congress, and the two political parties have been engaging in debate that is truth-free.

Democrats constantly cut corners on likely costs, telling us that “reform” can be accomplished on the cheap, claims disputed by common sense and independent studies that get little attention.

Republicans constantly raise the specter of “bureaucratic” health care, as though the private sector has not already bureaucratized health care, and as though an existing federal health program, Medicaid, were not a lean, efficient program with famously low administrative costs of 3 percent or less.

Helping congressmembers along with their lies is journalism, which is making no effort to scrutinize political claims and give the public some trustworthy and independent readings of the accuracy of the claims. Getting opposing comments from Democrats and Republicans in news stories passes for balanced news coverage. (In the case of Kerlikowske’s lie, an opposing view was not even provided in most mainstream stories.)

So this process of lies lumbers along, Democrats in the House and Senate slapping together a politically driven health care “reform” program built on bipartisan falsehoods.

Added to this flawed mix are the indolent work habits of Congress. Leaders in both the House and the Senate say they will not be able to finish the health care legislation before their August-September “recess.” Obviously, that calls for canceling the recess and staying with it. So naturally, Congress is leaving town.

It’s not as though the Congress has been keeping its collective nose to the grindstone. In addition to being off most Saturdays and Sundays this year, the Senate was off three weekdays in January, five in February, three in March, 14 in April, seven in May, four in June, and six in July. It worked one weekend day in January and one in February. That comes to 40 days off since Jan. 1. In other words, of the first seven months of the year, the Senate has yet to work a single full month. After this brutal work schedule, Congress is celebrating not getting its work done by taking a vacation—five weeks off for the House, four weeks for the Senate.

Sen. Harry Reid said when he became Democratic leader that he would crack down on Senate truancy. This doesn’t show it.

So cutting this vacation short would simply be making up days not worked earlier in the year. The congressional work ethic bears no resemblance to that experienced by most workers in the United States, and it’s time it did.

Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid, cancel the vacation and keep working.