You know, it's not all health care in Washington nowadays.
In tracking down the goings-on of your local congressional reps, I found that they've also been wrestling over everything from higher credit-card rates for you to higher salaries for themselves.
We've also got debates about debt, fights over the Nobel Prize and campaign foolishness aplenty.
So let's get started.
Big pay daze
Years ago, the cowards in Congress took a yellow-bellied approach to increasing their own pay. They voted to give themselves automatic raises every year — regardless of the economy or whether they had earned it.
They're now up to earning $174,000 a year.
Fortunately, there's a growing movement to stop the automatic raises: a bipartisan bill whose local co-sponsors include Democrat Suzanne Kosmas and Republicans Bill Posey and Cliff Stearns.
Kosmas signed onto the bill on her first day in office. And Posey put his money where his mouth was just last week, donating this year's $4,700 raise back to the Treasury, saying: "Congress should not have raised their own pay as hard times started to fall on many Americans."
The bill has 116 co-sponsors so far. Winter Park Republican John Mica, who has voted against pay raises in the past, said Tuesday he hopes to be No. 117.
Good. If these folks want to give themselves more money each year, they should at least be man and woman enough to vote to do so every year — and then face voters back home.
A one-woman fringe festival?
I've praised Brooksville Republican Ginny Brown-Waite in the past for her renegade and maverick stands on issues such as importing prescription drugs, pay raises and stem-cell research.
But she seems to be steadily drifting away from the mainstream and into the fringe-stream.
It started back when "Freedom fries" and France-bashing was all the rage. Brown-Waite actually suggested digging up the bodies of American soldiers in French cemeteries, shipping the corpses back to the U.S. and re-burying them in "patriotic soil."
Now she's back in the fringe-light, teaming up with Ron Paul and Cliff Stearns to demand that President Barack Obama ask permission from Congress before accepting the Nobel Prize.
Brown-Waite says she'd grant Obama permission to accept the award. She just wants him to ask first, because the three think they've spied a passage in the Constitution that requires it.
The award was over the top. Even the president called himself undeserving. But really, don't you guys have anything better to do?
Besides, what kind of Freedom-fry-and-American-soil-loving patriot tries to tarnish her own country's Nobel Prize?
The right to gouge
Last week, Congress passed what seemed like a no-brainer when it came to protecting consumers from credit-card companies who want to gouge them.
The House voted overwhelmingly to more quickly implement the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act, which tightens restrictions on when card companies can raise rates, charge fees and change the terms of agreements.
The bill passed 331-92 with broad bipartisan support. The only two locals on the losing side: Mica and Stearns.
Democrat Suzanne Kosmas may have irritated her liberal base when she voted against Nancy Pelosi's health-care bill. But she also backed the National Republican Congressional Committee into a corner … at least she would have if the party hacks had any shame or integrity.
For months, the NRCC had been sending out releases, asking whether Kosmas had the courage to do the right thing (in its mind anyway) and stand up to "Pelosi's health-care takeover."
Well, she did. She voted against it.
This apparently confused the simpletons at the NRCC, who don't know how to do anything but gripe. So now, they are continuing to bash her on the topic, saying: OK, she may have done what they wanted — but not for the reasons they wanted. So they still hate her.
Why anyone pays attention to these petulant partisans who couldn't care less about Central Florida issues is beyond me. In fact, I'm hearing from more and more Republicans — including respected ones contemplating congressional campaigns — that the NRCC's incessant whining makes the whole party look like amateur hour.
A 'Taking Names' flashback
Back in 2006, this column checked to see how local members voted on the nation's mounting debt.
The House had recently voted to raise the nation's "debt ceiling" by another trillion dollars or so. And the vote was along party lines … though the lines might surprise you.
Every single local Republican voted to allow more debt.
Every single Dem voted against it.
How things change.
A parting thought
Today many politicians, including some of those mentioned above, will praise veterans in front of big crowds. And they should. But it's a lot easier to pander than to deliver. The pols who truly care about veterans' issues — such as health care and post-traumatic stress — will do more than just talk. And they'll do it long after the crowds dissipate. Happy Veterans Day.
Scott Maxwell can be reached at email@example.com or 407-420-6141.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun