Just Sayin'

Paul Adair is a 21-year Germantown resident, retired scientist, writer, and lecturer.

Has Jim Sensenbrenner Earned a Nineteenth Term?

Political, U.S., Wisconsin

Jim Sensenbrenner has been on the taxpayer payroll his entire working life. He was elected to the state Assembly in 1969, the year he graduated from law school. He served in the Wisconsin legislature until 1979, when he was elected to the US Congress-where he has sat ever since.

The year that our Congressman took his current job, the USSR invaded Afghanistan. Jimmy Carter was President. Kramer vs. Kramer was a box office hit. Magic Johnson met Larry Bird in the NCAA basketball finals. And one of the top "albums" was Saturday Night Fever. Our world and country have drastically changed in all that time, but Jim Sensenbrenner is still in office.

What are Sensenbrenner's main accomplishments during his 36 years in office? Has he earned the right to yet another term? If you Google "Jim Sensenbrenner", one of the most frequent news stories related to our Congressman is an extreme pot-calling-the-kettle-black instance of Mr. Sensenbrenner stating that our current First Lady has "a big butt"

Among Sensenbrenner's other claims to fame is his taking an active role in the petty and vindictive impeachment of Bill Clinton. He acted as a "House Manager" in that divisive partisan show-trial.

Our Congressman calls himself a "veteran of the climate wars." He has finally acknowledged that the earth is, indeed, warming, but still fights any attempt to do anything about it. Recently, he voted against our military doing anything to prepare for climate change or acting to improve sustainability.

Jim Sensenbrenner is a senior Republican in the House. He and his majority party have succeeded in making this the most do-nothing Congress in US history. As of Mid-May, the 113th Congress had only passed 104 laws, on track to beat even the record low 283 passed by the 112th Congress. It is not as though there is nothing to do. Sensenbrenner and his cronies have done nothing on immigration, nothing on infrastructure, nothing on sensible gun safety, nothing on increasing the minimum wage, nothing on shoring-up Medicare and Social Security, nothing on jobs- well, you get the picture.

Instead, Congressman Sensenbrenner believes that the House has more important things to do than to attend to America's pressing needs. During a late 2013 town hall meeting, one of Sensenbrenner's constituents remarked that so far, he has voted a ridiculous 46 times to repeal Obamacare. Jim immediately interrupted, saying, “and I would vote 46 more times to eliminate Obamacare.” To date, he has voted over 50 times to allow insurance companies to deny you medical coverage. Over 50 times to overturn an established and wildly successful law that helps his constituents.

And not satisfied with 13 Benghazi hearings, 50 briefings, and 25,000 pages of documents, Jim recently voted to waste even more taxpayer money on yet another partisan Benghazi witch-hunt.

As another example of how he ignores the needs of constituents in order to further a political agenda, our Congressman has consistently voted for every version of Paul Ryan's Ayn-Randian Roadmap to Prosperity manifesto. Through his votes, he has endorsed the privatization of Social Security and turning Medicare into a discount coupon scheme. Through his votes, he has favored the drastic slashing of the Pell Grant program, which allows millions of students to afford college.

The current Congress' ineffectiveness at governing should alone be sufficient reason to replace them all. However, Sensenbrenner and his droogs have gone way beyond ineffectiveness. At the very least, we should expect that the people we elect to govern should be able to keep the government actually open. Sensenbrenner has not even met these minimal expectations.

In one of the most senseless and inane Congressional actions in decades, House Republicans shut down the Government last fall for a total of 16 days. Right in the middle of this disgraceful event was our own Jim Sensenbrenner.

Last August, Sensenbrenner sent a letter to House Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor. In that note, our Congressman, along with 79 of his politically extreme comrades, asked Boehner to bring about the national disgrace of closing our Government.

In Rep. Sensenbrenner's letter, he urged the House leadership "to affirmatively de-fund the implementation and enforcement of Obamacare in any relevant appropriations bill brought to the House floor in the 113th Congress, including any continuing appropriations bill." Knowing that the President and Democratic Senate would never go along with de-funding the Affordable Care Act, this course of action could only lead to a government shutdown. And so it did.

Not one to share sacrifices, Sensenbrenner declared his entire staff as "essential" during the shut-down, so that they would not be furloughed like other government employees. Even when Congressional leaders hammered-out an agreement to re-open the government, Sensenbrenner bizarrely voted with the minority to keep it closed.

The electorate of the 5th District has had plenty of time to evaluate the long political career of Jim Sensenbrenner. From his participation in the heinous government shut-down to being a senior member of the least productive Congress in history, his record is an abysmal one. He has consistently voted against the interests of his constituents on issues such as gutting Medicare and privatizing Social Security. Sensenbrenner's performance in office has not earned him another term.


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