10/3/2012 11:38:00 AM Editorial Ineffective Congress puts our future at risk
Courtesy the Daily Courier
Remember the "debt ceiling" debates of 2011? The action, or rather inaction, of Congress resulted in Standard & Poor's downgrading of our country's credit rating, and kicked the can down the road for a future Congress to deal with the problem through budget cuts.
On the horizon now, the "can" remains. This time it is called the "fiscal cliff," which involves Congress returning from its current six-week break for a "lame duck" session to tackle the unfinished business as a result of the pending expiration of the Bush tax cuts and more than $100 billion in automatic cuts to discretionary spending - including defense - that are set to take effect Jan. 2, 2013.
But wait. Six-week break? Lame-duck session?
It is normally called that, following a presidential election; however, now it is more fitting than ever. Members of the 112th Congress are doing what they do best - nothing.
Prior to this recess they were on track to break a record of sorts. In the 1940s, former President Harry Truman dubbed his Congress the "do-nothing Congress," noting that it advanced only 906 bills. Our current Congress, as The New York Times reported last week, will go down "as the least productive body in a generation," passing fewer than 200 bills into law.
Thus, as usual, they are waiting for voters' Nov. 6 marching orders, but leave little doubt that their record of inactivity will continue.
Note also that this Congress' reluctance to find common ground extends to both sides of the aisle. The unwillingness on the part of House Republicans to compromise has been matched by Democrats in the Senate - a body that has introduced the country to budgeting by continuing resolution.
While legislative productivity does not necessarily signal success and while fewer laws may be better, this Congress has dribbled on many previously simple measures such as the farm bill, drought assistance and, let's not forget, revamping of the U.S. Postal Service. They also have failed to take on cybersecurity and dropped the ball on reauthorizing protections for victims of domestic violence that have been extended without incident twice before.
Given the work that remains after Election Day, we hope they will come to their senses. Or, we should say, we pray they do.