Stability and civility are gone in Congress, while international and domestic problems which demand answers remain unsolved according to former congressman Bob Ney.
Ney addressed a large crowd Wednesday at St. John Central High School as part of the school's Eagle Legacy Lecture Series.
The former Ohio congressman directly addressed his involvement in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, including his own jail time and resignation as a result.
Photos by Daniel Dorsch
Bob Ney speaks to residents as part of the Eagle Legacy Lecture Series at St. John Central High School on Wednesday in Bellaire.
Greg Wilson, 17, left, chats with Bob Ney.
A lot of the issues with congressional lobbies which led to the scandal have only gotten worse in the years since, Ney said.
Speaking about the recent removal of a travel disclosure requirement from the annual disclosure form submitted by lawmakers, Ney said much of what he and Abramoff were convicted of has now been codified and made legal.
"Instead of full disclosure, they actually made it less transparent," Ney said.
"They've made it worse. Anything that Jack Abramoff and I ever did has been completely made legal by the U.S. Congress and put on steroids."
He added the removal was also done in such a manner that it can easily be undone, further demonstrating an unstable political system. He said about 1,900 privately-funded trips were taken last year, showing that some things don't change.
Speaking on education, Ney said the Catholic school system remains a boon in American education and cautioned administrators regarding the use of educational vouchers which can bring U.S. government influence into the system.
Conflicts between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Bohner, R-Ohio, were another point of instability Ney addressed Wednesday.
"We've come down to a government where one branch is going to sue the other over something instead of working together," Ney said.
"A lot of main issues that should come to the surface will sit. There's no focus in America right now on jobs. Our jobs have just floated out the window. And no one's talking about balancing the budget. It's all squabbling in Washington," he said.
Globally, Ney said one of America's biggest weaknesses is a tendency to impose its will on other countries and refuse to compromise for the sake of peace.
"We need to understand we can't always make a threat," Ney said.
"We're going to have to work with some partners who we don't like. Now we sit in a position that we don't know what we are going to do. This is one of probably our most precarious times in American history," he said.
Ney's lecture on Wednesday was sponsored by the St. John Central History Club, under the supervision of teacher Michael Loccisano, as a fundraiser to bring the community in to meet and listen to Ney and to help pay for the club's first long-distance trip to Boston. Copies of Ney's book "Sideswiped: Lessons Learned Courtesy of the Hit Men of Capitol Hill," were sold throughout the evening with all proceeds going to the club.