With health care reform on the way to the morgue, the president is getting a lot of advice on how to get his administration’s agenda back on track: Talk to the Republicans. Don’t talk to them. Start over. The Republicans in their role of opposition party are getting a lot of advice too: Get out of the way. Stay the course. I’d like to offer a different piece of advice for both: change the subject.
Regardless of party, most legislators and members of the administrative branch want something other than total gridlock for the next three years. In fact I daresay there are at least a handful of problems within the natural purview of the federal government to correct with solutions so blindingly obvious that there should not be anything less than strong bipartisan support. Here are two:
1. Eliminate the penny.
The production costs coupled with the value of the metal content mean the US Mint loses money on every penny they make . The value of the copper content alone of pre-1982 pennies greatly exceeds the face value of the coin . Moreover, it has been calculated that the additional transaction time associated with keeping pennies in the till costs the average American $3.65 annually . A small sum perhaps until you consider the number of average Americans. In the battle of sentimentality and the zinc lobby versus common sense, I’d like to think I could bet on a winner.
2. Grant full voting representation in Congress to the District of Columbia.
This country was founded on the idea of consent of the governed, yet the citizens of our nation’s capital–more numerous than the state of Wyoming–lack voting representation in Congress. We champion free and fair elections the world over yet we restrict the freedoms of the people who call the heart of our democracy home. The most popular license plate design in town reads "Taxation without representation." Cause for revolution? Perhaps not. We still have our Starbucks and cable TV, and yet something is not right here. This is a Constitutional issue which may take a little longer to clear up, but, honestly, who in Congress today is going to stand up and say, "You, sir, American citizen, federal taxpayer, and resident of our nation’s capital city, you do not deserve the right to have your voice heard in Congress."
All these issues need is a little press.