Let Congress Eat Cake

Marie Antoinette, who had the bad fortune to be queen of France during the French Revolution, is widely, and wrongly, quoted as joking that the solution for starving peasants was easily resolved: “Let them eat cake.” Although Congress isn’t telling the American people we can eat cake, it seems they’re creating a 21st Century equivalent. When the federal government was literally minutes from a shutdown on April 8, 2011, that wasn’t good governing. It was absurd political theater that offended our troops, who would have kept fighting without pay, and endangered our economic recovery.

The 2011 budget battles, which dated back to the fall of 2010, displayed a situation where politics had become more important than governing. As Congress continues the debate on the 2012 budget, we all need to be more aware and involved than ever before. By now, we’ve learned more than we thought possible about a little discussed, but extremely significant concept—the debt ceiling. According to CNNMoney.com, the debt ceiling is a cap set by Congress on the amount of debt the federal government can legally borrow. We have learned the political rhetoric, but we must learn to move beyond spin to the facts.

Government budgets reflect a society’s priorities and values. If we want to be competitive in a global economy, we must finance education. If we want our aging and poor populations to be healthy and ongoing contributors to our society, we must fund Medicare and Medicaid in a compassionate, efficient way. If we believe that climate change is a real danger to our health and environment, we must put resources into alternative energy. If we think we’re spending more than we make, we absolutely must raise revenue AND cut costs.

The average Congressperson has a salary of $174,000, which they still would’ve collected even if the government had shutdown in April. They’re not fighting the fights that matter to us: Job creation, public safety and ending wars. As Americans struggle like French peasants, Congress is in Washington cutting the funding for bread—forget about cake.

kimberly s. jones

Kimberly S. Jones, Esq. is an attorney and policy advocate. She can be reached at ksjesq@msn.com. Follow her on Twitter @PunditOnPoint. "Like" Pundit On Point on Facebook