Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Do-Nothing Congress

One of the arguments that the media likes to raise against Republicans taking over one or both houses of Congress is that nothing would get done - we'd have acrimonious gridlock between congressional Republicans and a Democratic president.

But would that be all that different from what we're observing now? The House Democrats are looking forward to leaving town leaving important work undone. They haven't passed any of the appropriations bills. They never even came up with a budget resolution. And they haven't done anything about the Bush tax cuts set to expire next year.

Dana Milbank has a lot of fun with the underwhelming Democratic agenda in the House.
They still have their largest majority in decades, but the Democrats have succumbed to paralysis in the closing days of the legislative session. Congress has yet to pass a budget or a single one of the annual spending bills. Plans to spur the economy with tax cuts await action. Senate Democrats, faced with a GOP filibuster, have now punted on immigration reform and repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military. Meanwhile, House Democrats have so little on their schedule that their first vote of the week is coming at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, when Americans are most of the way through their workweeks.

Among the items they'll consider: H.R. 1545, "Expressing support for designation of the week beginning on the third Monday in September as 'National Postdoc Appreciation Week.' " And: H.R. 4387, naming the building at 100 North Palafox St. in Pensacola, Fla., the "Winston E. Arnow Federal Building."

....There's still talk about a "lame duck" session after the election, when Democrats might revive some of their proposals. But the end of the current session is turning out to be just plain lame.

Hoyer, who was scheduled to appear at four fundraisers for embattled Democrats on Tuesday alone, was asked if he plans to bring up any other major bills before the election. He cited three minor ones. "You didn't name the tax-cut bill," somebody pointed out.

"I should have," he said, but before acting on that, he added, "we're going to see what the Senate does."

That's easy. The Senate, burial ground for hundreds of House bills this session, is, as usual, doing nothing. On Tuesday afternoon, a pair of Democrats, Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, joined Republicans in blocking debate on a Pentagon policy bill. That essentially killed the Democrats' last major legislative effort of the year (the bill also included immigration provisions and an end to "don't ask, don't tell"). It left the majority with little on its schedule for the rest of the year other than a stopgap bill to keep the government running for a few more months.
Of course, they can brag about passing the most consequential bill since the 1960s. But they don't seem to like talking about ObamaCare. Then there is the $800 billion stimulus. Oh, wait. That hasn't stimulated the economy and unemployment is staying up.

Perhaps they could talk about cleaning out the swamps. Oh, wait. Nope that won't work. Check out Doug Ross's portrait gallery of Democratic corruption from last year. Think of how much has been added since then: the scandal of the Congressional Black Caucus scholarships which Eddie Bernice Johnson and Sanford Bishop funneled scholarships to their relatives. And just yesterday we got the information on how Jesse Jackson Jr. was offering millions of dollars to Blagojevich for the Obama Senate seat. So they're not going to be able to run on their incorruptibility.

What they have done is wildly unpopular and they're not doing the jobs that they are supposed to be doing. And they're sheltering several disturbingly corrupt politicians in their caucus. So what is the argument for reelecting these folks?