For most people, age brings a certain amount of wisdom that, if applied properly, enhances understanding and consequently success. I vividly recall many wise sayings that my father imparted on me when I was young. I suppose I did not pay much attention to them at the time, but today they resonate loud and clear.
One saying that continues to reverberate is, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” My youthful response was to question why anyone would want to catch flies. Finally, long ago, I did understand the true meaning. While trying to be consistently nice does make sense, what gets in the way is genuine disagreement. Some people are more passionate about the issues being disagreed upon, and the vinegar flows freely.
Apparently Congress has had a river of vinegar coursing through its halls for years. The rancorous vitriol spewed forth by both sides of divisive issues has certainly not served “we the people.” In recent months, however, someone must have found the honey jar. Ever since the federal government’s 17-day shutdown — i.e. paid vacation for those federal government employees who were furloughed — members of Congress seem to have seen the error of their ways and have begun to work across party lines to negotiate to solve our most pressing problems.
A big test is coming within the next few weeks. Jack Lew, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, sent a letter last week to congressional leaders, warning that the federal government will run out of money around Feb. 7, due to refunds of tax overpayments to 2013 taxpayers. In anticipation, Lew is asking that the federal government debt limit be raised by that date. This request will no doubt challenge the air of cooperation of the last few months. It was this very debt ceiling issue that caused the shutdown last fall. What prompted the more cooperative follow-up was public outrage over the federal government shutdown.
Although there has been some sniping back and forth, I hope and believe that the two political parties, and the two chambers of the legislature, will come to a timely agreement on the debt ceiling issue, so that another shutdown may be averted.
We the people will need to be watching closely to see if they act as sweet as honey or as sour as vinegar!
S. Joe DeHaven, 01/29/14