Skip to comments.One Cheer for Our Unproductive Congress: Legislative Inactivity is Actually a Blessing
Posted on 12/11/2013 7:37:42 AM PST by SeekAndFind
As this session of the 113th Congress draws to a merciful close, much of the punditry has picked up on the refrain that this is the most unproductive Congress in history. Indeed, this Congress has passed just 28 bills, easily eclipsing the previous record for inactivity set by Congress in 2012, when it passed just 68 new laws. But why, we might ask, is this such a bad thing?
Sure, there are things we might have wished Congress had accomplished. Something to address immigration or entitlement reform springs to mind. And it certainly would have produced less chaos if Congress had actually managed to pass annual appropriations bills instead of cramming all spending into the usual last-minute continuing resolution.
But there is a presumption behind such handwringing that we really need Congress to be even more involved in our lives than it is. Consider the laundry list of new programs that President Obama introduced in his State of the Union address back in January: early-childhood education, green energy, more economic stimulus, a higher minimum wage, and so on. Would we really have been better off if those things had passed?
We already face a record $17.2 trillion national debt. Should Congress have spent even more money?
Federal spending now consumes more than a fifth of all the goods and services produced in this country over the course of a year. According the Congressional Budget Office, unless there is a drastic change in our current policies, we are on course for the federal government to consume more than 40 percent of GDP by mid century.
Government payouts now account for more than a third of all wages and salaries in the United States. We pay subsidies to everyone from farmers to solar-panel manufacturers. If one includes government employees salaries, more than half of Americans receive a substantial portion of their income from the government.
Meanwhile, the federal government issued 3,148 new rules and regulations this year. The Federal Register now runs to 77,759 pages, the fifth most of all time. Nearly every product we buy and everything we do is regulated by the federal government in some way. Government tells us everything from what charities we can support to what light bulbs we can install.
And the result of all this productivity has been what, exactly? Can anyone name a major government program since the GI Bill that actually works?
Since 1965, when we started the War on Poverty, the government has spent over $15 trillion fighting poverty, yet weve done little more than create a permanent underclass. We spend more every year on education, yet test scores and dropout rates fail to improve. Programs such as Social Security and Medicare are careening toward bankruptcy and threatening to take the country along with them. Government guarantees and lending mandates helped precipitate the housing crisis and the recession that followed.
Indeed, most of what government has done actually makes matters worse. Just look at Obamacare: With just one piece of productivity, we have a law that drives up health-care costs, makes it harder for people to see the doctor of their choice, kills jobs, and still fails to provide anything close to universal coverage.
Voters dont seem to prize productivity. In October, at the height of the battle over the government shutdown, a GfK poll found that 60 percent of voters favored a smaller government providing fewer services while just 35 percent want a bigger government that does more. Similarly, a Gallup poll found that 53 percent of Americans thought the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses, while only 40 percent thought that the government should do more to solve our countrys problems.
Our Founding Fathers sought, in Jeffersons words, a wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. Jefferson called this the sum of good government. Today, some might call it unproductive.
Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the author of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.
House Republicans were very productive,
they halted the rest of Obama’s Obama-care like reforms.
that’s what they were elected for.
Except the one that’s going to destroy the medical industry, the economy and our freedom.
Heckuva job, House GOP ;/
Who needs new laws when Federal Regulations work just as well.
The real metric would be permanent reductions in the size of the Federal Register.
We’re in a car - rushing toward a bridge that’s fallen in the water... We’re trying to apply the breaks - liberals want us to ‘stay the course’... The press wonders why we’re trying to stop the car...
That was passed by a Democrat congress when Pelosi was Speaker and Reid had a filibuster proof majority in 2010.
Every single Republican in congress voted against it including Snowe and Collins which was amazing.
The talk radio timelines are always mixed up so its best to google to do a double check on the dates
I understand that.
I also understand that the GOP majority that was elected after that did NOTHING to stop it after running on stopping it.
Sorry, but they are liars.
This is why had no qualms about not voting for Romney, the signer of RomneyCare.
A RINO pres w/Repub congress would get too much RINO work done.
Given the Repub congress in 2010, I saw it better to have stalemate.
I’m glad it worked out as I thought it would and will continue to NOT listen to the repub elite who want to tell me how to vote.
The house GOP shutdown the government over Obama-care as they were ordered to, the problem is that those who insisted on that didnt seem to consider that Obamacare was exempt from shutdowns so Obamacare was never shut down..
So it had little or no chance of success.
No Obama and Reid shut the government down.
I thought we were the ones who hate big government.
You didnt want them to shut the government down,
It doesn’t matter to me if the government is ever open a single day again.
What does matter is truth. The GOP were not the ones who shut it down.
They don’t have the balls for that, they are more scared of that than fire.
Well if the plan wasn't for some *conservatives* who want much of the government closed down to shut it down, then why would Obama and Reid pass a Senate bill the defunds Obama care if there was no shutdown?
If the point wasnt to shut it down then the whole thing seems even more pointless.
Because the Dems can threaten the GOP with shutdown anytime they want to get them to do anything they want, and that time they said fund it all or government shuts down, government shut down, GOP funded it all.
But you know what, I think it’s all a bunch of staged bullsh!t on the party of both parties, because they both know damn well the government doesn’t shut down, and they both know the US can’t default on it’s interest payments by law, yet the play this game for all us fools.
Both parties are a bunch of stinking liars, SoL.
The big problem with this one is the shutdown was launched with the impossible goal of forcing Reid and Obama to pass a Senate Obamacare defund bill to defund , but Obama care was exempt from a shutdown. Recall Cruz and 18 others voted against the House CR that defunded Obama-care for that purpose (obviously that didnt stop Reid)
So given that goal was doomed from the start the House started passing limited appropriation bills for certain things like military, parks, etc and the GOP argument morphed into ione about spending and away from Obamacare.
And those separate spending bills like the ones Obama actually signed (like pay the troops) ::: they didnt defund Obamacare. Obamacare stayed funded even though the Senate passed some rejected others.
The most idiotic part was that Saturday when EVERY House GOP member voted to pay the furloughed government workers for their time off afte the shutdown was over.
Yes but the shutdown occurred because the dems and Olucifer would except no changes at all to Obamacare, no defunding, no delay, no nothing.
Fund 100.00% of government or shutdown occurs, so they shut it down, and they left it shutdown until the GOP did exactly what they said.
But what tells me about the GOP are incidents like paying employees for doing nothing while at the same time publically fretting about the shutdown, and further engaging in democrat LIES about defaulting on the debt, which isn’t possible, and not speaking out against the obvious lie that SS recipients might be paid.
This is kabuki theater, SoL. Both parties are engaged in this, they are con men, liars and schemers.
The GOP is not worthy of any trust at all. There may be a member or two or three that deserves the benefit of the doubt at this point, or maybe even actual trust, and I am referring to Cruz and Lee and Gomert only pretty much, but the rest of them are stinking criminals.
I agree that Obama took a hard stand on it no doubt about it.
He basically said “You will surrender and you get nothing for it”
But that is because the initiative was doomed from the start and everyone knew it .
Everyone knew exactly how it would end(as it did), it was no mystery.
I know some talk radio shows were prompting listeners to act ‘outraged and surprised’ and you could see their comments here doing that. But most of them knew too.
But it was just another Kabuki dance
It was doomed to fail with regard to defunding it, because the republicans in the house and senate do not want to defund it. It then became about delaying it, but that was also doomed to fail for the same reason.
The main benefit of that entire scenario in my eyes was to show that a government “shutdown” has no consequence to anyone. There is no reason to fear it at all. The only reason the GOP pretends to be scared to death of it is because they are playing a con game, and we are the marks.
You missed, it was doomed from the start because :
1) Holding up a CR budget deal doesnt affect Obamacare,
so even if a CR is killed in Senate, or the House passes one that Reid rejects or just passes partial funding bills, none of that defunds Obamacare
2) You cant be the ‘get rid of most of government’ movement, and really want a shutdown to make Obama cave, then go out and convince those outside the choir that you were against a shutdown. Its just not believable.
I quizzed one freeper who was calling for a shutdown about #2 and he replied :”Of course conservatives have to say THEY are against a shutdown (when they really want one) or the MSM will beat them up”
The purpose wasn’t to defund, it was to delay the mandate.
That is a perfect example of what I was saying, and why it was doomed from the start:
Complete confusion as to what was the objective of the shutdown, the same shutdown that we were supposed to deny that we even wanted (Oh brother) .
The very first CR the House sent the Senate defunded Obamacare, not delayed it.
Per these marching orders:
You cant possibly win when you dont even know what your objective is,
That’s true, and Cruz’s objective was to defund. However, being that The GOP is a bunch of sniveling cowards, liars and schemers, they didn’t stand with him, instead attacked him, set forth their own false scenario, then allowed themselves to be defeated while pretending to oppose Obama, which is their standard MO.
Whatever the case here, I do not believe that electing more republicans is going to change anything. We either take back control via Article V, or this is going to get much, much worse very quickly.