Lawmakers confuse priorities on social services, gun control

The OlympianMay 2, 2013 

Let’s excuse voters for being confused about how our elected officials set their legislative priorities. Because frankly, sometimes it just doesn’t make sense to the average American.

Take the recent so-called sequester, for example. The U.S. Congress concocted the ingenious idea that, if they couldn’t agree on a budget, the government would implement across-the-board spending cuts to every federal agency.

Nobody seemed to care about the thousands of young students who subsequently got booted out of Head Start programs or the thousands of senior citizens who no longer received visits from the Meals on Wheels program.

But as soon as airports started experiencing flight delays because air traffic controllers were taking furloughs, Congress leapt into immediate action. Just hours before all of the senators and representatives left Washington, D.C., to return home for a week, they approved a bill that allows the Federal Aviation Administration flexibility to shuffle money around and eliminate the controllers’ furloughs.

Why couldn’t they act so quickly to give other agencies the same flexibility? Why are federal lawmakers more concerned about flight delays than making sure low-income seniors have a warm meal?

A similar question might be asked of the Legislature. When two drunken drivers caused four deaths in King County, state lawmakers sprang into action. Stricter laws were advocated and hearings were held. Good changes in DUI laws are coming.

But when five people were gunned down in Federal Way, our state legislators responded with ear-splitting silence. No speeches or hearings about measures to reduce gun violence.

With DUI-caused fatalities on the decline and gun violence on the rise, our lawmakers reacted contrarily.

It’s all too confusing for the unelected mind.

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