From The Joplin Globe, April 16, 2011, "Our View: Now we're fed up"
JOPLIN, Mo. — The political blogosphere went nuts this week over hearing U.S. Rep. Billy Long, the Springfield auctioneer, conduct an “auction” of the national debt on the floor of the House. Videos of Long’s auction-speak spread across the Internet like sales of Rolaids before tax day.
While that part of the video was entertaining, we were much more disturbed by what came before all the auction babble.
Long was on the floor to address the first bill with his name as sponsor. If passed, it would establish the third Saturday of April to be National Auctioneers Day. He and another auctioneer-turned-lawmaker are pushing the bill to recognize auctioneers’ role in America’s economy.
This is not what we had in mind when Long made election promises of less government, or no more business as usual. It sure doesn’t work toward cutting spending and reducing the deficit.
In fact, according to the bill’s language, this day of observance might actually cost taxpayers extra money. No Congressional Budget Office numbers have been released, but the bill would request the president to call “upon the people of the United States to observe the week with appropriate ceremonies.”
We understand that Long has spent only a few months in the House. Budget problems and other national issues have kept Congress busy, so we can understand the need to start slow.
And a new day of observance is hardly something to get riled about. In the big picture, National Auctioneers Day (if passed into law) would be one of a myriad of similar days, where the sheer quantity of them erases any meaning.
But for our new 7th District representative’s first bill to heap lavish praise over his chosen industry just doesn’t sit right with us.
It’s the principle of the whole thing: When Long campaigned for the 7th District, we heard him talk about how members of Congress weren’t meant to be career politicians. They were supposed to serve their term, then go back home and live under the laws they created.
If that’s true, then it makes an unpleasant statement about Long’s true motivations for seeking office.
Long is acting in poor taste by backing this bill. We’d like to see him get back to work on the important mission of actually cutting government.
Reports are filtering in that following his remarks at the Joplin Tea Party, Rep. Long skirted past four local reporters set up to ask questions and quickly left the area.