Jon Stewart knows that Congress is deadlocked between Democrats and Republicans who seemingly cannot do anything together. He has been making fun of them all year for that very fact, so he should have been happy when that illustrious body passed a $1.1 trillion dollar budget bill that “kept the lights on” in Washington. This bill was so important that not having it would force another government shutdown. Crisis was averted, but another crisis may have been created. In that bill were some lawmaker’s pet provisions which could spell catastrophe for parts of the country and the Daily Show host was not happy about it. So last night in his first segment, Jon Stewart ripped into Congress for its sneaky budget bill.
Congress has such a hard time playing nice that one lawmaker called the passage of the bill a “monumental achievement.” As Stewart noted, “keeping the lights on” is only an achievement if one is a Maccabee, a reference to Hanukah. But while Congress celebrated its electricity bill being paid, other people may have been celebrating less savory victories. There were a lot of sneakily added legislative caveats in the bill, including a reversal of part of Dodd-Frank, which was enacted after the debacle with banks, loans and mortgages. Democrats, who overwhelmingly supported the original law, would not normally have voted for this new measure, so how did this bill pass at all?
Well, it is because they did not know about it. Stewart explained that all the extra laws hidden in the budget bill were added by legislators on the sly, some of them late at night when no one was around to review or argue them. Such things are called “Christmas trees.” Stewart was outraged by this gift to the banks. But more importantly, he noted that another piece of legislation was included which increased the max amount that donors can give to a political candidate. That means that anyone who likes what Congress has done (say, a bank?) can now give more money to the politicians who have pleased them.
But Stewart was not done after he revealed this special relationship between Congress and the finance industry. He also showed a clip of Elizabeth Warren, an outspoken lawmaker who has tackled financial issues head on, asking “who does Congress work for?” She urged people to fight back, but Republican Lindsey Graham gloated, “That’s democracy.” Or was it? As Stewart pointed out, democracy is when laws get examined, debated and then voted on when everyone knows the facts. That is not what happened with this budget bill. As he put it, this was “democracy” in the same way that Cheese Wiz is “cheese.”
Stewart spends a lot of time on The Daily Show tying together facts to give his audience a picture of how things are. That is what he did last night. The bill, the Christmas trees, and the possible relationship between the banks and politicians who need donations is a very bleak picture. But Jon Stewart ripping Congress a new one for passing this sneaky budget bill was fantastic.
Review By Lydia Bradbury