Thursday, April 2, 2009

Service to Country

Things aren't looking too rosy out there these days. With the size (and number) of problems facing our country, it can be hard for an individual to feel as though she can make a difference.

Well, a good idea popped up on Capitol Hill recently: the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act -- and unlike the bank bailout, it will cost taxpayers just $3 per person in 2010 and result in practical benefits for communities across America.

The GIVE Act (H.R.1388), known as the Serve America Act (S 227) in the Senate, will expand AmeriCorps  and other national service programs from 75,000 positions to 250,000 participants over the next eight years. Currently focused on college-age volunteers, opportunities would include veterans and Americans over 55, as well as middle and high school students. A Congressional Research Service summary of the bill is here.

The bills passed in both the House (321 - 105)and the Senate (79-19) with overwhelming bipartisan support. Twenty-two Republican Senators, including conservatives like Kit Bond, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Orrin Hatch and Judd Gregg, lent their support.  In the House, every member of the Michigan Republican delegation -- with the exception of Pete Hoekstra -- supported the bill.

On Tuesday, the House passed a motion to concur in the Senate amendments to the bill (275-149).  The majority of the Michigan delegation (12 -3) voted in favor, including GOP Reps. Camp, Ehlers, Miller and Upton.

In an unsurprising about-face, Mike Rogers and Thad McCotter decided that they enjoy being the Party of No,  and flip-flopped to join Pete Hoekstra in voting against the final version of the bill.   As with the budget, Mr. Rogers was for it before he was against it...

Reasonable people may wonder why a bill that has passed muster with Sens. Hatch and Gregg isn't good enough for Mr. Rogers.  

Here's a prediction: when questioned on this vote, Rogers & Co. will parrot the scare-mongering phrases of Michele Malkin, Glenn Beck et al:

"It could force a mandatory national service requirement on all young Americans!"  

No.  The bill dropped a provision, which was then written as a stand-alone bill (HR 1444), to establish a Congressional Commission on Civil Service.  The Commission would address twelve specific topics, two of which apparently bunch conservative panties:  

(5) The effect on the Nation, on those who serve, and on the families of those who serve, if all individuals in the United States were expected to perform national service or were required to perform a certain amount of national service.

(6) Whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed, and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the Nation and overcome civic challenges by bringing together people from diverse economic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds.

Studying possible outcomes provides information about pros and cons of a plan. It doesn't mean that the plan will be implemented.  In fact, a cynic would point out that study committees are usually where ideas go to die...

This will let Obama push his radical agenda by forcing kids into liberal political activity!

No.  The final House version included an amendment by Rep. Miller which   

prohibits organizations from attempting to influence legislation; organize or engage in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes; and assist, promote, or deter union organizing.
You may hear some whining that an amendment by Sen. David Vitter to prohibit ACORN and any ACORN-affiliated organizations from receiving GIVE funds was tabled.  Well, the Miller amendment covers ACORN and actually expands Vitter's intent by prohibiting a wider range of political activity.

There will be uniforms! Like brownshirts!

This is just too silly for comment, so here's a picture to put it in perspective.  Scared yet?

Bottom line: Mr. Rogers would rather spout off about cap-and-trade policy than work on practical approaches to tough issues like unemployment, rising college costs, resources for veterans and seniors, and service to country.    


Anonymous said...

Just would like to know what you would propose to do with the kids who refuse mandatory service. Like say, the computer geek teaching himself how to write parallel processing code and refuses to instead pick up garbage in the park. Jail? Ban him from the public university? What? I only ask because you seem not to acknowledge the axiomatic view of freedom so long ago established in this country. Study the merits of involutary servitude? Seriously? Are you too overfond of imagining consevatives in panties that you cannot see how such study is offensive? Perhaps someone should propose a study on the pros and cons of christian baptism by immersion for all young adults. Silly bunched panty you -- it doesn't mean it would be implemented. In fact, a cynic ... blah, blah, blah... Study? Seriously?
-- sincerely, someone who actually does volunteer, but only to help someone and not to shill around for either side of the wooden two-party-faced nickel

Kelster93 said...

Anonymous -- please take a minute to visit, a well-researched and politically neutral (i.e., equally irritating to both parties) non-profit research center. They have a new article about "mandatory" public service.

One more thing: I'm glad that you are a volunteer. I am, too (school, library, food pantry and church). I don't assume that you're not a nice person just because we don't agree on politics.