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Pyatt: Congress' return will provide comedy and tragedy

The upcoming post-Labor Day legislative agenda includes both the best and the worst of humanity. The best might be to focus our energies into addressing complex but important issues such as long-term planning along our coastal regions and include some thoughts as to — gasp! — global warming.

All right, I said a bad word. I'll wash out my mouth with soap. But if we're to move forward this critical issue can't be denied. A second facet of the best would be to provide some relief and support for the thousands who had significant flood damage to their houses or suffered temporary or permanent loss of jobs. The flood damage affected rich and poor, white Americans as well as minorities, and hopefully can serve as a unifying force. We need something to unite us.

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Now, to the worst agenda item. I doubt it would be built, but does erecting a wall along the Mexico border — and having the president threaten to veto a bill that did not include such funding — really do anything? I recall with nostalgia where it was commonly understood that China had a terrible record on human rights. Now, in the span of eight months, this is all reversed. This affects our level of confidence worldwide and gradually undercut our moral and financial leadership.

Now, to the second-worst item, that of tax relief. Although there are structural deficiencies in the tax code, we all know this is the "middle-class billionaire" tax cut. The fiscal elites, e.g. Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Michael Bloomberg, to name a few, are all trying vainly to donate their money properly. And that's commendable. The poor lesser billionaires "stuck in the middle" are having a hard time. They are resorting to money laundering and rare art collecting and haven't come up with a substitute for tax relief.

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Perhaps it's a form of the Stockholm syndrome, but I actually have some sympathy for the "middle class billionaires." The high-end guys have gamed the system — and if Mr. Trump ever releases his tax returns we'll get a good picture — and pay trivially low amounts. Some pay next to nothing.

Also consider poor Apple Corp. with more money in cash than the U.S. government (although anymore that's relatively easy), what are they to do? They just sit aimlessly and drift until poor Uncle Sam gives them a break. They probably would like to bring some jobs back to American soil, but I'm sure a tax break plays into this somehow.

Somewhere in this upcoming "boo hoo hoo" legislative session a few pesky items must be dispensed with. One is to raise the debt ceiling. A second item is to actually pay the bills for the millions of federal and past federal workers, Social Security recipients, our active military and military industrial complex team. No big deal, but it should have been done early in the fiscal year and not to hijack some flaky, special interest issue affecting a very few but extraordinarily well-heeled folks.

Infrastructure is also key. If they don't address this in the Hurricane Harvey follow-up — and we'll know soon — then we can just forget this item. If our government's official position is that global warming doesn't exist, how can federal money be used on extensive flood control projects? But can a state-funded project — or partnered with a federal agency — acknowledge (duh!) global warming actually exists and put requirements in place to deal with it? Kellyanne, perhaps you might take a shot at this one?

Ah, if only the Bard were around to witness this spectacle. He saw a few flakes in his time, but the modern day versions are up to the challenge. A wall! A wall! My kingdom for a wall. Comedy and tragedy, Shakespeare's staples, are alive and well in this upcoming legislative session. Both will be on full display. I hope I do much more laughing than crying come late fall.

Dave Pyatt writes from Mount Airy.



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