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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Lawmakers close to learning valuable life lessons after nearly opening lemonade stand

  • Moving on from a lengthy and unresolved year-end, party-line dispute over spending and taxes, the nation's lawmakers now say they are close to learning valuable life lessons after nearly opening a lemonade stand this week.
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  • Moving on from a lengthy and unresolved year-end, party-line dispute over spending and taxes, the nation's lawmakers now say they are close to learning valuable life lessons after nearly opening a lemonade stand this week.
    "This is very exciting," said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, who seemed eager to demonstrate that the Senate was approximately ready to move forward on any proposal that more or less involved selling the sugary drink on Pennsylvania Avenue. "We've done the best with what we've had, but then again we've never just about had a lemonade stand before."
    Not to be outdone, Speaker John A. Boehner, who has struggled to find common ground among members of his own party, said it was the Senate's turn to all but come up with an idea for pricing the lemonade drinks that won't quite hurt small businesses or harm a still-fragile economy.
    "The House will well-nigh take this action on whatever the Senate can pass, but the Senate must almost act," he told fellow Republicans on a conference call.
    Members from both the House and Senate seemed enthused about the almost-agreed-upon plan to open the stand, expressing relief that they are just about ready to begin bickering over something substantial like the proper tartness of lemonade instead of the shadowy minutiae of Social Security payout calculations.
    "This is the best I've felt about being a senator in a long time," said Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, as she worked on an initial proposal for a hand-drawn sign advertising the cost of a cup of lemonade at 25 cents. "For the first time that I can remember I actually feel like I am doing the people's business. It's great. It's inspiring. I expect Steven Spielberg will be making a movie about us soon."
    Departing Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, said his experience of talking with his colleagues from the House and Senate over the last several days about the close-at-hand possibility of selling lemonade in the nation's capital has restored his faith in the country's bicameral form of government and has just about given him a new appreciation for the public sector's important role in a free society.
    Mr. DeMint and others hope the breakthrough of having almost reached a tentative accord to sell cups of lemonade to passersby from a homemade stand set up on Pennsylvania Avenue will help nearly assure the public that Congress is, for now, practically functional and its members are more or less open to learning about personal responsibility and cooperation.
    "That Congress can take on a responsibility like this and very nearly follow through is a staggering achievement," Mr. DeMint said as he sipped what he described as "freedom-ade" from a glass shaped like the Capitol building rotunda.
    Page 2 of 2 - "If I had known that being a senator could almost be this much fun," he added, "I would have come close to never leaving Capitol Hill."
    Lawmakers say they are as good as confident the task of just about selling the lemonade will sharpen their basic math skills, demonstrate that hard work is its own reward, and prove that you don't always have to have a lobbyist to succeed.
    "I didn't realize how much I almost wanted to be here until I got here," said Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, who had taken the red eye from San Francisco and, with his tie slightly askew and his hair somewhat unkempt, was now mixing a pitcher of lemonade and sort of joking with Rep. Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, about 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney's tax returns.
    Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat who is working on a new book, "It Just About Takes a Lemonade Stand," said it was no easy feat getting nearly every one of the 500-plus lawmakers close to all but agreeing on the size, location and hours of operation of the stand, the ingredient proportions and price for the lemonade, and whether a sales tax should be levied on each drink purchase.
    "But somehow we've almost managed to do it," Mr. Hoyer said, "and somewhere in there is a lesson we can apply to ending the fighting in Syria, addressing major issues like global warming and economic inequality, and reducing the price of french fries served in the Congressional cafeteria."
    Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader, said lawmakers have just about come up with the protocol for running the stand all by themselves, without any outside supervision. A procedure that calls for the leaders of the respective parties - Boehner and Nancy Pelosi in the House and Reid and Mitch McConnell in the Senate - to take turns opening and closing the stand and counting up the total sales for the day seems to nearly have the backing of almost all of the Congress and could come up for a tentative vote any day now.
    "I am encouraged that we have been able to take it this far," said Mr. Cantor. "The finish line is very nearly in sight. If we can just practically come together on this, it will almost be a victory for the American people and a shining example of what our democracy can just about do."
    Philip Maddocks writes a weekly satirical column. He can be reached at pmaddocks@wickedlocal.com.

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