Washington Insider
Jumping through the Olympic rings

By Mike Joyce
senior government affairs representative


The Summer Olympics in Beijing will provide an array of athletic ability sure to captivate the world and engage our spirit of American patriotism.

In August, you will see athletes compete in gymnastics, archery, basketball, boxing, wrestling, fencing, weightlifting, etc. Many of these sports bring to mind the antics we see from politicians.

From now until Election Day, members of Congress will mimic Olympic athletes. They will position themselves to gain advantages at the start of races; dodge and weave to avoid oncoming hits; maneuver to deal breathtaking blows to their opponents; balance stylishly so they don’t step across the line; and, although naturally self-involved, determine strategy as a part of a team.

The Olympic judges will decide who takes home medals from China. Similarly, in November voters will decide who will represent them for the next two years when they elect all 435 House members; for the next six years when they elect one-third of the U.S. Senate; and for the next four years when they cast their ballots for the next occupant of the Oval Office.

At least the Olympic athletes will give us all something to cheer about. If only we could say the same for politicians. Capitol Hill has fallen to the lowest of the low in terms of approval ratings because of bickering, the inability to address public needs, and the quest for dominance over the opposite party.

Of course, not all of the blame lies at the doorstep of our nation’s Capitol, or for that matter with the current Congress. The blame can be shared by previous partisan Congresses and the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. – George W. Bush – and many of his designees working in government agencies.

In this year of economic uncertainty and skyrocketing fuel prices, among other concerns, it’s no wonder voters and taxpayers are frustrated with politicians.

So what new policies are we likely to see to help our economy be more competitive in the global market, increase the value of the dollar, and address our energy crisis? In short, we will probably see little in the way of substantive long-term solutions. Why?

Unfortunately, the immediate goal of each political party is to win seats in Congress and to win the White House. Historically, compromise legislation during a General Election year gives a boost to incumbent members of Congress and the administration for signing something into law. However, this time, the Democrats are banking on the president’s all-time low ratings and the misconception of more than 40 percent of voters who believe the Republicans still control Congress.

The Democrats are betting that voters are angrier at Republicans than at Democrats, and that voters blame the Bush/Cheney White House and previous Republican Congresses for oil, fuel and food prices. After eight years of Bush, the Democrats are hoping to return one of their own to the White House, giving them a lock on the executive and legislative branches.

What does this all mean in terms of getting new laws to help truckers with fuel prices?

It means that despite a lull in the action, it’s important that we keep the pressure on and remain fully engaged in the political process.

 So right now, OOIDA’s DC crew continues to “work” the policymakers and you should, too. It’s an important time to educate them on small-business trucking. We continue to get co-sponsors on legislation we support. We continue forward with our agenda in the regulatory realm. We continue to be vigilant about initiatives on both the federal and state levels that may damage our industry and business practices.

 We need to get ready for the new administration and what opportunities that brings to our causes. Election Day is only months away and if we are to succeed in making major accomplishments, we must be prepared. And we will be. LL