My Florida congressman, Vern Buchanan, sends out these inane email surveys almost every week, which always ask one question in a way that screams, “Answer this way!” A recent one, for instance, was designed to get constituents to say that congressional salaries are too high. Which is really rich, because Vern Buchanan is, uh, really rich.
As one of the richest members of Congress, Vern Buchanan will personally profit, it is estimated, between $372,000 and $2.1 million from the tax cut he helped pass at the end of 2017. My Social Security tax withholding went down by $30 a month. Thanks, Vern.
On the eighth anniversary of the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Buchanan bravely took issue with Scott Pruitt’s EPA attempts to roll back post-spill tightening of drilling regulations. Yay! I will note that Vern lives on Sarasota’s ritzy Longboat Key barrier island, right on the Gulf, which is clearly at risk from both global climate change and unsafe drilling practices. I live a few miles inland from him, so hopefully when his house floods I will know it is time for me to vacate.
On second thought, it doesn’t seem particularly brave to oppose the EPA rollback when the reason is clearly that it threatens your own multi-million-dollar estate. Buchanan has shown zero resistance to any other action by Scott Pruitt, clearly the most corrupt EPA administrator in its history (an agency established by Republican Richard Nixon, in case you forgot). Vern Buchanan suffers from that particular Republican disease where the only problems in this world are the ones that affect them personally and threaten their personal wealth. Buchanan seems particularly tone-deaf, not only to the environment that the rest of the country and world need to live in, but even to some petty grievance against his fellow “lower class” congressmen who sleep in their offices to save money.
Senator Rob Portman from Ohio has a similar problem. Rob seems to be a nice guy. I met him years ago when I was living outside of Cincinnati and he was my congressman there. Rob “bravely” bucked his party’s position on same-sex marriage a few years ago, but only after his own son came out as gay. On every other issue, as far as I can tell, Portman continues to support the Religious Right and Trump administration campaigns of discrimination against women, minorities and the disadvantaged. His votes loudly say that he is afraid to stray too far from his party’s fealty to religious conservatives, who somehow blindly support the most blatantly norm-flouting and disgusting president in our history.
What Vern Buchanan and Rob Portman have in common is that the world stops at the end of their respective noses.
Disclosure: When I moved to Sarasota, I quickly traded in my Iowa truck for a more practical vehicle at a local car dealership, not knowing at the time that it is owned by Buchanan, and so I in ignorance personally contributed to the huge pile of money sitting on Longboat Key. Forgive me Father, for I have sinned!
And if you are interested in how some Republicans used to act in days gone by, fiscally conservative yet committed to the environment, education and women’s rights, you might be interested in my earlier reminiscence about Mitt Romney’s very “un-Mitt” parents, Lenore and George.