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Editorial: Congressional gridlock disgusts voters

Three U.S. billionaires of opposing viewpoints have written a blistering attack on hateful obstruction that prevents Republicans and Democrats in Congress from acting to benefit the United States.

“America deserves better than this,” wrote Microsoft founder Bill Gates, philanthropist Warren Buffett and GOP bankroller Sheldon Adelson. In a New York Times commentary last week, they accused the 535 members of Congress of “shortchanging America” by refusing to compromise to produce helpful actions.

The three focused on immigration reform, which is needed to cope with millions of Hispanic adults and children flooding in illegally from the south. They despaired over reaction to the tea party defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, saying:

“On June 10, an incumbent congressman in Virginia lost a primary election in which his opponent garnered only 36,105 votes. Immediately, many Washington legislators threw up their hands and declared that this one event would produce paralysis in the U.S. Congress for at least five months. In particular, they are telling us that immigration reform — long overdue — is now hopeless.”

The three billionaires said both parties in Congress should cooperate to enact “immigration legislation that is both humane to immigrants living here and a contribution to the well-being of our citizens.” For example, they wrote:

“We believe it borders on insanity to train intelligent and motivated people in our universities — often subsidizing their education — and then deport them when they graduate.” Instead, they said: “For those who wish to stay and work in computer science or technology, fields badly in need of their services, let’s roll out the welcome mat.”

They said Congress should agree on both a “talented graduate” plan and an “immigrant investor program” that would let gifted young scientists and wealthy investors enter America freely, boosting the economy. They said the Democratic-controlled Senate has taken such steps, and now “it’s time for the House to draft and pass a bill that reflects both our country’s humanity and its self-interest.”

By doing nothing, they said, Congress “is extending an irrational policy by default,” adding:

“The current stalemate — in which greater pride is attached to thwarting the opposition than to advancing the nation’s interests — is depressing to most Americans and virtually all of its business managers. The impasse certainly depresses the three of us. ... It’s time for 535 of America’s citizens to remember what they owe to the 318 million who employ them.”

Amen. No wonder public approval of Congress sank to an all-time low of 9 percent last fall, reflecting general U.S. contempt and disgust.

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