Political deceptions

By ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, former U. S. senator


JUNE 17, 2015 -- Washington keeps talking unrealities and I don't know what to think. For example, we have the Constitutional Law Professor, President Obama, saying that the most deliberative body, the U.S. Senate, must not deliberate and unconstitutionally give him Fast Track. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution states: "The Congress shall have power…to regulate commerce with foreign nations…"

But President Obama says he must have the power or China will set the rules for trade. That's our trouble. China is already setting the rules for trade and Corporate America not only loves China's rules but Wall Street, the Big Banks and Corporate America contribute to the President and Congress (Republicans and Democrats) to do nothing to disturb the flow of China profits. The President and Congress do nothing. Moreover, the people do nothing. The people keep reelecting their House members and Senators. Under Fast Track, Congress is allowed to read the TPP Trade Agreement in a secure room but the agreement is not final.

Members of Congress are not allowed to discuss the classified sections or talk with each other to clarify the technical language. A treaty that changes the laws can be amended but Congress under Fast Track can't amend the TPP agreement. Fast Track is an unconstitutional deception of the Executive Branch. The President fixes the vote of the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in the House and the Senate Finance Committee and a few leaders on trade and the rest go along.

In foreign policy, Washington is always coming up with military training and advising. After ten years in Vietnam, we learned that the military training and advising couldn't change a countries culture. After ten years in Iraq, we learned that the military couldn't meld three religions into a democracy. And we ought to know by now that three religions are not going to defeat ISIS.

Saudi Arabia is creating more ISIS terrorists than can be defeated. In Saudi Arabia, there's no separation of church and state. State controls religion and education and, in the ninth grade, pupils are taught the Salafi or Wahhabi versions of the Muslim religion (Frontline 11/9/2001). The Salafi's are intolerant of other Muslims and are taught that Christians and Jews are infidels- must be eliminated; must be beheaded. ISIS is just practicing what they learned in the ninth grade. So, to defeat ISIS, the United States must get a commitment from Saudi Arabia to continue to teach religion but must not teach violence against other religions. Then the U.S. Military - and only the U.S. military, can go in and clean up ISIS.

Congress limited spending in campaigns or elections in 1971 and in 1973, President Nixon signed the law. At that time, no Senator would think of raising money against another Senator. But when the Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo voided the limit on money in campaigns, House members and Senators started raising unlimited money, the Republican and Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committees took over the fundraising and partisanship set in. In 1993, Democrats cut spending $250 billion and raised taxes $250 billion without a Republican vote, giving President George W. Bush a balanced budget in 2001. But President Bush cut taxes, started wars, added prescription drugs to Medicare, stimulated and bailed out, all without paying for them. Democrats felt that Republicans wouldn't help balance the budget in 1993, and weren't about to help President Bush balance his budget. Gridlock!

Many think the way to break gridlock is that those in Congress should be more polite, friendly. But they can't be friendly with unlimited fundraising. Congress, situated amongst 10,000 lobbyists, has the advantage of fundraising morning, noon and night. I tried for a Constitutional Amendment to empower Congress to limit and control spending in campaigns. My last three years, the Republicans were in control of the Senate and wanted to amend the Constitution to prohibit flag burning. They asked that I withhold my spending limit amendment. I refused and no Constitutional amendment was considered in the Senate 2002, 2003 and 2004. There's a movement now to repeal Citizens United but let's empower Congress to limit or control spending. Then we can take care of Citizens United, the buying of politicians and Congress will regain control of the government from the lobbyists. Gridlock broken.

Senator Fritz Hollings of South Carolina served 38 years in the United States Senate, and for many years was Chairman of the Commerce, Space, Science & Transportation Committee. He is the author of Making Government Work (University of South Carolina Press, 2008).

© 2015, Ernest F. Hollings. All rights reserved. Contact us for republication permission.

About Fritz Hollings

Ernest F. Hollings served the public for 56 years -- 38 years in the United States Senate and as South Carolina's governor, lieutenant governor and a member of the S.C. House of Representatives. Today, Hollings continues to be influential in public affairs and offers this website as a compendium of current and past positions on public issues. Learn more about Fritz Hollings.

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