Doing America's business?

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John O'Connor, Editorial Director
John O'Connor, Editorial Director
As this issue goes to press, Roger Clemens and his former trainer are taking turns on Capitol Hill calling each other a liar. My guess is that they are both right, but that's beside the point.

The showdown between Clemens – arguably the best pitcher of all time – and Brian McNamee has certainly made for high drama. Clemens denies that he injected steroids or human growth hormone to extend what had already become a Hall of Fame-caliber career. McNamee counters that not only did the Rocket do it, but also that McNamee was the needle man.

It's riveting stuff. And there's a good chance one or both of them may be heading to jail shortly. However, I do have a problem with these sorts of congressional hearings. Namely, why do they keep happening? I'm not saying that steroids in professional sports are not a serious issue – they are. But don't our elected officials have more important matters to attend to?

President Bush has just released a planned budget that guts billions of dollars from the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Should these planned cuts take place, thousands of mostly older Americans will be at risk of receiving less care than they need, perhaps no care at all. 

It also looks like we may be heading into a recession, if we're not there already. Do you think that hearings about ways to deal with reversing an economic downturn might be in order?

And has anyone noticed that while the Unites States spends the most per capita on healthcare, life expectancy in our nation is not even in the top 10?

We're also at a point where the chasm between the haves and the have-nots is widening as perhaps never before.

There are also more than 12 million people in this country illegally. 

Then there's that little matter of the two wars our nation is fighting, one in Iraq and the other in Afghanistan. More than 3,000 Americans have died in recent years, courtesy of these conflicts. Yet there doesn't seem to be near the public uproar one might expect about where these fights are heading, or how much more they will cost.

Instead, we have Rep. Henry Waxman giving an athlete and a former cop who helped improve his athletic performance a lecture about integrity. Personally, I think Waxman is a bright, hardworking lawmaker dedicated to reducing waste and corruption. But this hearing really seems to be more about basking in the limelight than making America a better place to live.

We elect our officials with the hope that they will faithfully attend to our most important business. Too bad they spend so much time on monkey business.