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Katherine Tyler Scott
Business leader

Katherine Tyler Scott

Katherine Tyler Scott is Managing Partner of Ki ThoughtBridge, a leadership consultancy, and is author, most recently, of Transforming Leadership: The Episcopal Church of the 21st Century. She is a board member of the International Leadership Association.

Congress's actions 'the height of hypocrisy'

Q: With the economy slowing again, scores of nominations awaiting confirmation and major issues such a climate change and immigration unresolved, Congress has left town for its traditional 6-week August recess. Is that smart leadership? At what point should leaders upset well-established routines to signal that business-as-usual is no longer acceptable?

A "business as usual" mentality is never appropriate in a crisis situation. It demands an accurate reading of reality and responses that are adaptive to the situation. Congress appears to understand this best only when it comes to others. When BP's CEO participated in a yacht race during the oil spill political leaders were vitriolic in their comments and portrayed him as an elite, cold, out of touch leader. When President Obama didn't get to the southern coastal areas to view the unfolding disaster soon enough, Congressional leaders were highly critical of his absence and characterized him as aloof and detached. When Mrs. Obama vacationed in Spain with her daughter she was defamed for taking time away and using tax payers monies for security purposes, even though she holds no formal elected leadership position.

The barrage of righteous indignation from Congressional leaders to situations like these was said to be because of the need for all Americans to show empathy and restraint in these hard economic times. But in spite of their own arguments and the enormous economic crises now facing the Country (most of which are the result of decades of denial), members of Congress have taken another paid vacation. Some of them recently voted against the extension of unemployment benefits and are opposed to letting the tax cuts expire on the wealthiest citizens.

Leaders need time away to reflect and renew so they can return to their duties ready to do the hard work required. But the action of Congress is the height of hypocrisy. Many of them have engaged in a politically motivated work stoppage all year. Their work avoidance has not served the best interests of most American people.

It is not leadership to automatically be against something no matter what it is and have nothing substantive to offer in its place. It is not leadership to vote against bi-partisan Committee legislation because it makes the other party look bad. It is not leadership to block the appointment of positions intended to help the government run more effectively. It is not leadership to make decisions that will affect generations to come in a reactive or "step-ford like" mode. The diversity of opinion and thought in each party is at risk of devolving into a form of group think. Whatever the Democrats were for the Republicans were against. And it is certainly NOT leadership when Congressional leaders bet on the ignorance or historical amnesia of citizens, and fan their frustration and anxiety into intolerance and scapegoating. These are not examples of leadership; they are attempts to manipulate the people.

I have not heard how those who have exercised the power of" No" will lead when they have the power of" Yes." If Americans really pay attention to Congress and those members who have worked to preserve their own status and the status quo rather than responding responsibly to one of the most challenging times in this Country's history, they will give those who have not led a permanent vacation.

By Katherine Tyler Scott

 |  August 17, 2010; 1:40 PM ET
Category:  Congressional leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Have an idea based upon the corrupt performance of Congress in recent years:
*Reduce Congressional Member's and staff's pay and perks by 15%, and permit increases only when spending is cut to equal revenue.
*Reduce expenditures by the Executive Branch for the next four years to the average expenditure for the past ten years.
*Average tax increases (including the hidden taxes) inacted by Congress, reduce their congressional retirement accounts by a like percentage.
*Develop a rule in the House and Senate that there will be ZERO nepotism in either body, and under any circumstance. (This is the height of ‘double dipping’
Then, and only then should the little fiefdoms in DC be permitted to tax it's citizens further -- including banks! We could call it the Rangel – Waters Act!

Posted by: wheeljc | August 17, 2010 7:02 PM
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Kerry - "if you're going to fake a Purple Heart maker sure no one is around"

- "if you plan to steal money like Waters, Rangel and Pelosi (Boat Dock to Husband), give it to a Union First, then they "Donate" it back with votes"

Posted by: highkey11 | August 17, 2010 4:29 PM
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