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Doug Turner: Gridlock benefits special interests

WASHINGTON - Incumbents for the House and Senate are slated to come home this week to campaign for re-election. According to Bloomberg, this election year recess will be the earliest since 1960.

They have no place else to go. They can't go junketing to resorts in Israel or Baden-Baden or the Caribbean the way some of them did during their five-week "district work" period before Labor Day.

Your government, by the way, paid out $25 billion for interest on the national debt during that period, and will pay an estimated $35 billion more while the members are asking for your votes.

If questioned why they quit their workplace - again - without passing a budget or why they took no action on the menacing $16 trillion national debt, they will point fingers at the vaporous opposition.

They can't talk about the farm bill they never passed, or ending the senseless slaughter in Afghanistan, although President Obama's feckless "surge" to Afghanistan ended quietly last week. Yet 50,000 American troops are still there in harm's way - from Afghans.

The cost of the campaigns for House, Senate and the presidency may cost as much as $5.8 billion this year, including primaries. Because most of the money will come from Washington-based special interests and super PACs allowed under the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. FEC ruling, there will probably be little change in Congress.

For the powerful shadow government of special interests now running the country, gridlock is good business.

The House is expected to remain Republican. No matter who wins a Senate majority, the margin is likely to be so small that what members call "the greatest deliberative body in the world" will be deadlocked again.

Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, didn't even bother to move a proposed constitutional amendment, co-sponsored by New York's Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, to overturn Citizens United. Reps. Kathleen Hochul, D-Amherst, and Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, backed similar moves in the House. But the GOP House majority loves all this new secret funding, so House reform on Citizens United remains hopeless.

Republicans are basing their drooping hopes of a presidential victory on a flood of super PAC ads in October for Mitt Romney. But the former Massachusetts governor is proving as susceptible to making stupid, toxic remarks as President Obama is at lofting hollow promises.

The unpalatable choice this year is between a Republican who feels war veterans and those on Social Security are moochers and a Democratic president whose foreign policy is imploding, a paralyzed custodian of a detonating debt and a chief executive who told an audience last week he can't change anything. Both are showing themselves to be frighteningly limited men.

Now that we know what the incumbent president is incapable of, this is a worse choice than 2008. Doubters: Ask Democrat Hochul if she is bringing in Obama to campaign for her, or ask her Republican challenger Chris Collins, of Clarence, if he's asking Romney to ride the bus with him.

The candidates, congressional and presidential, are asking for your support based on no action or meaningful explanations on spending, on the deficit, on taxes, on war, on Citizens United or on the flood of foreign subsidized goods that have closed our factories and left 24 million Americans underemployed.

While the nation at large is stalemated, this hasn't hurt Washington. Half the nation's most affluent communities surround this city. It's happened because only half of the people bother to vote, because we are not paying attention, because we have allowed ourselves to become polarized by issues and enthusiasms that have nothing to do with having a decent job and raising our families.