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I miss the Mooch. August is usually pretty dull. Last year we had the Rio Olympics. Where would we be without the Michael Phelps warm-up routine? But for sheer entertainment over a fortnight, it's hard to top the Mooch.

Historians may debate the legislative malaise following the effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Since we are both geographically and seasonally close to Gettysburg, I can see a close parallel between Pickett's Charge and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's Charge. Both were long shots in a failed campaign yet came close to scoring a victory. Think it through. McConnell's Charge had no tangible outcome, would have apparently made a murky situation even murkier and was a fool's errand on its best day.

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Robert E. Lee at least greeted Pickett's surviving troops and took personal blame for ordering the charge. McConnell demurred for a few days and then went on vacation, leaving the landscape littered with the debris of a failed legislative agenda.

Did the election of 2016 really instruct McConnell and his cohorts to wreak this kind of havoc, win or lose this fiasco? Maybe I'm watching the wrong TV news channel or reading the wrong newspapers — I'm restricted to those speaking or printed in English.

News flash: I still have moderately high cholesterol, am a few pounds over my fighting weight and have to keep an eye on my blood pressure. Would this ACA repeal/replace make a difference to me and millions of others in the same boat? One way or another — if we're clever enough or patient enough — our prescriptions will be filled, our blood tests will be completed, and we will be told to eat less and exercise more. And stop smoking.

It isn't that hard, really. Who pays for what and how is much more complicated. But it will get done either way. By the way, nobody is really happy with the ACA or non-ACA. Doctors don't make enough money, specialists are grousing, insurance premiums are going up, the lab test lines get longer and longer, and health practices are rapidly changing. Appointments are down to 15 minutes, so we can skip the lecture. The physician's favorite word is: "Next!"

Speaking of next, on the Republican legislative agenda it was supposed to be "tax reform." House Speaker Paul Ryan has rallied that there was a ground swell and a calling to repeal the tax code. Other than the Koch Brothers and a few billionaires here and there — and again I'm limiting myself to English speaking news outlets — this voice is pretty dim. A few TV ads are starting to sprout.

People want jobs, and jobs that pay well enough to maintain their standard of living. That comes across loud and clear. It's nice that the stock market is up — smattering of applause. Big kudos from the Mooch. But only a small percentage of real folks benefit from this, although those that do like to brag about it. New graduates, and older, e.g., over 50, just want a job to keep their career and family afloat.

There is a looming debt crisis coming that must be dealt with. Failure to address this could put our economy in a deep depression. The White House (I'm the victim of a witch hunt, and they won't allow me to do what you elected me to do), Congress (buckets and buckets of wealthy campaign donors), and the financial institutions (keep the money flowing, for God's sake) all have an agenda. Unfortunately, none of the agendas overlap. I see this as a rock, paper and scissors exercise between Trump, a few key senators and Robert Mueller's investigation as to who can exercise the most leverage in getting this complex deal done. There is no room for tax reform, by the way, although there will certainly be a valiant attempt. And who knows how deep the entitlement and Federal job cuts will be.

To some extent, this is like a Stephen King novel. Bad stuff — really bad stuff — can happen in the next few months. I'm getting more upbeat we can work our way through what could have been a routine and workable situation.

We are so busy bleeding out from self-inflicted wounds that Russia, China or ISIS could possibly clean our clock. News flash: The world is a forbidding place, and the bad guys are less afraid of us every day. And they watch the news.

The long-term scenario looks poor. I'm disappointed that some long-standing Democratic leaders — and we don't have to look beyond out state boundaries — have done very little or haven't come up with fresh ideas.

If the Democrats can't capitalize on the current Republican legislative agenda's foibles — and there are holes big enough to have all of Mexico sneak through — where are we? Saying "no" isn't good enough.

Dave Pyatt writes from Mount Airy.



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