While you were out: summer politics

Andrew Justus

While you were out this summer hitting the pause button on life so you could throw footballs, kiss beautiful women, work on a tan, kiss questionable women and go to the ballet every Thursday, the world of politics kept right on doing its thing with no regard to your academic calendar. Here’s what’s down after we all lost our bridge cards last April.

Congress: Our beloved Body of the 535 smartest Americans, as picked by fellow Americans, has been keeping themselves busy figuring out more ways to disagree on a myriad of positions, including many that used to garner bipartisan support. The month of July was marked by gridlock and inability to raise the debt ceiling until moments before the nation was to default on its financial obligations. Republicans shied away from a proposal called the Grand Bargain which was worked out by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Obama, leading to an abundance of last minute wrangling. There was also a bit of a fit surrounding reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration. The agency that keeps planes from falling out of the sky was allowed to go offline for a few days because of differences over funding rural air services which require government subsidies.

Michigan: The Great Lakes State won federal money originally shunned by Florida for high speed trains. The former Sunshine State monies will go toward cutting 30 minutes off a typical Detroit-Chicago train ride. Also partly in Detroit, plans for a new bridge to cross the Detroit River into Canada have spent the summer muddling along in the state legislature. Canada’s desire to build the bridge is so strong, our northern neighbor has offered to pay Michigan’s share of the bridge costs in exchange for having more bridge workers come from Canada.

Election 2012: Republican presidential candidates slugged it out in the Ames Straw Poll over the summer months, culminating in the actual poll on August 13. Tea Party favorite Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) beat out Ron Paul (R-Texas) by less than one percent and Tim Pawlenty (R-N.H.) announced his withdrawal from the race after finishing in third. Despite all the hype, the straw poll has only picked the eventual GOP nominee twice since its launch in 1979.

[email protected]