Congress Nears End of Session: Doomed Gas Cloud Rushing Toward Black Hole

capitol in space.PNG

AFP reports that “Astronomers have spied a giant gas cloud with several times the mass of Earth accelerating toward the supermassive black hole at the centre of our own Milky Way galaxy.” 

“‘It is not going to survive the experience,’ said Stefan Gillessen, a research at the Max-Planck Institute of Extraterrestrial Physics and lead author of the study.”

He might have been talking about this week in Washington, where Congress is on a crash course to implode. 

We face two not very bright futures:  On the one hand, closure of the federal government and expiration of payroll tax reductions that both parties claim to support, hurting more than a hundred million Americans right before the holidays.  On the other hand, Republican leaders want to force Democrats and the president to swallow a host of loathsome ideological and special-interest policy riders.

Playing off the scientists’ definition of a black hole, you might say Congress “is a region in spacetime from which nothing, including light, can escape due to its gravitational force.”

Not just light, but light bulbs. 

The House Republicans’ funding bill would block new energy-saving standards for light bulbs, throwing into chaos an entire American manufacturing industry that has geared up to make new products that will save money for every American family.  In one stroke, this bill would destroy American manufacturing jobs and cost American families billions of dollars paying for wasted electricity.  No wonder Congress has a dim-watted reputation.

Some of the riders are down-right deadly.  One, attached to the payroll tax bill, could cost 28,000 lives by blocking life-saving air pollution safeguards to clean up thousands of dirty, coal-burning industrial boilers. 

Others give big wet kisses to Big Oil:  Another one on the payroll tax bill fast tracks the ill-conceived Keystone XL pipeline that would give the dirtiest Canadian oil access to the international market.  And Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is busy taking credit for shifting clean air permitting for Arctic Ocean oil drilling from EPA (which knows something about clean air) to the Interior Department. 

And then there’s a Christmas present for Big Ag – loopholes to shield a handful of huge animal factory farms from any limits on the heat-trapping pollution that wafts from their artificial lakes of manure.  In fact, they’d be the only big industry in the country that doesn’t even have to disclose how much climate-changing pollution it produces. 

There are other anti-environmental riders undercutting clean water and public lands safeguards sprinkled throughout the massive funding bill.

Scientists watching events unfold in deep space are excited:  “This will be the first time ever that scientists will be able to observe in realtime the destruction of such a gas cloud by a supermassive black hole.”

But this is the third time this year that the American people have had to watch the House leadership and its allies in the Senate take the U.S. Congress – and our national government and economy – to the brink of destruction.

President Obama and Congressional Democrats are standing firm against these dangerous efforts to block public health and environmental safeguards.  Let’s hope the radicals driving the giant gas cloud blink before they reach the black hole.