Our view: Where are Congress’ priorities?

A week ago, seven-time Cy Young award winner Roger Clemens spent about 270 minutes before the House committee testifying about details within former Sen. George Mitchell’s report on steroid use in professional baseball.

Last week also saw the meeting of Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about the professional football scandal dubbed “Spygate,” which deals with the illegal taping of opponents’ signals by New England Patriot’s coach Bill Belichick. Specter has shown an ongoing and intense interest in why the NFL destroyed the evidence from the case.

A Gallup poll from early January showed Congress holding onto a 23 percent approval rating. Congress even managed to score 9 percentage points lower than President Bush did in the same poll.

Perhaps the fact that our nation’s most powerful legislative body is getting involved in professional sports has something to do with it.

Cheating has no place in professional sports. We doubt anyone but those doing the cheating themselves would think otherwise. But is it really the place of Congress to step in to clean it up?

The nation has so many problems: a dwindling economy, a war that’s taken nearly 4,000 U.S. men and women from us and skyrocketing health care costs. And Congress is concerned with whether any of Clemens’ 4,672 strikeouts came because he was on the juice?

To be fair, Congress isn’t totally ignoring these problems – the House and Senate finally agreed on the economic stimulus package that will put $168 billion back into the hands of American taxpayers.

We’ll all be happy to cash in those checks, but we aren’t so sure how positive an impact the refunds will have. According to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll, just 19 percent of Americans said they planned on spending their money, which was the point of putting it back it their hands.

It’s also frustrating for us as college students to see, in an amendment to the Higher Education Act, a provision that would require colleges and universities to report on how they’re attempting to curtail illegal file sharing on their networks and to explore incorporating technology that would prevent it. The House passed its version earlier this month. The Senate’s version includes similar provisions.

It probably is Congress’ place to tackle illegal file sharing, but they shouldn’t be tackling it by passing it off to universities. Universities have enough to worry about as it is; they shouldn’t have to control their adult students’ online downloading habits.

It’s about time Congress re-evaluated itself.

The Democrats touted productivity when they were first elected to office. But since those first few speeches in November, we have seen very little progress. Of course, it doesn’t help to have a lame duck, stubborn president in office.

Instead of stumping for presidential candidates, telling universities to crack down on illegal filesharing and turning congressional hearings into SportsCenter episodes that last hours, maybe Congress should look at the real problems facing America.

The above editorial is the consensus of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.