Congress: Beyond broken
I don’t really make predictions. But my prediction is in 10 years, we will all snidely refer to anything inept, broken, petty and lazy as being like the 112th Congress.
Coaches will yell it at their athletes when they’re falling behind, "Do you want people to call you the 112th?! Do you? Then get up and get back in the game!" A nasty burn in a breakup: "You’re too 112th to live with, Darrel." This Congress should not have its jersey retired -- but quarantined -- nothing we ever like, respect or care about should ever be called 112th.
Out of 112 Congresses this batch of Brooks Brothers barnacles has managed to break the institution. Their public approval rating is hovering around the margin of error -- and that’s only because some of the people pollsters called think the president is Martin Sheen.
Because of the abuse of the filibuster, the Senate can no longer function. The filibuster is a storied device to pause a vote with a Senator’s yammering. Now it’s used as a veto threat. It’s as if the "hold" button was rigged to just hang up the call (and then block the number). Anything less than one party having 60 lock-step voting members means a stalemate. Without a super majority "nothing" is now the only thing possible in this deliberative body. The same amount of votes it takes the Senate to amend the Constitution is now what it takes to rename a post office.
Speaking of which, that’s basically all the 112th House has done for two years: re-name post offices. Naming things that already have a name. That’s what they’ve been doing on our dime. Out of the paltry (and pathetic) 124 laws that have originated in the House, 27 of them have named post offices. Two have issued commemorative coins. That means of the two years this House has met they’ve only originated 95 bills that have become laws.
How do they compare? Well the average number of laws originating in the House in a normal (not mind-numbingly obstinate) Congress is around 300. The 111th House, under Democratic majority, made 254. The 109th House, with a Republican majority made 316 laws. Going back to the 1970s, the 93rd Congress had 337 laws originate in their chamber.
What has the House been doing? "Nothing" would be something to aspire to. They’ve been introducing symbolic, go-nowhere bills that will never be brought up in the dysfunctional Senate and therefore never make it to the President’s desk. Their bills have mainly been to outlaw abortion and overturn the Affordable Care Act. That’s right: Not only have they been ineffective at making their own laws -- they’ve been ineffective at unmaking other laws.
They’ve voted 33 times to overturn ObamaCare. As if the president was going to sign that piece of legislation. Ever.
Jobs, jobs, jobs? More like: Blah, blah, blah.
I asked a congressional staffer the other day if working in the lowest rated Congress in the history of counting was like being on the set of "Gigli."
His answer? "Pretty much."
Part of this is our fault. To paraphrase P.J. O’Rourke, we voted in a bunch of people who think government is ineffective so they have to prove themselves right once on government dole.
But really, I’ll just quote congressional candidate Wayne Powell running against House Majority Leader Eric Cantor: In a debate last week the retired Army Colonel said, "You don’t like government. You should just resign and then I’ll take over."
Indeed. But instead on October 5, 2012, Congress will take (yet another) break. They will not resume their idle busy work until November 13. They’re taking five weeks off so they can campaign to keep their jobs they don’t really do.
Like I said: morally bankrupt.
Tina Dupuy’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. She is an award-winning writer and the editor-in-chief of TheContributor.com. Tina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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