The Do Nothing Good Congress

I have written an Op Ed for Human Events titled the “Do-Nothing-Good-Congress.”  A Human Events commenter made an excellent point.  square root writes:


Truman’s “do-nothing” Congress was the sole Republican Congress from 1928 to 1953. All Republicans could do in that ONE term, was stand against Truman’s liberal agenda and hold firm for the people they were sent to serve. Republicans had the numbers to legislate conservative law; but Truman would sign NO conservative legislation. Even though Republicans were (just barely) the majority party, Truman had them over a barrel.  Alas! In 1948, voters unwittingly returned control of Congress to the Democrats. Even then, and it’s even worse now, too many Americans lacked/lack sufficient understanding of how Congress actually operates. Too many believed Truman’s liberal lie of a “do nothing Republican Congress”. Truman won his election by sleight of hand; which Christians regard as dishonest.

I worry that my Op Ed may have offended those fans of the “Do Nothing Congress” of the Truman era.  I love the idea of stopping bad ideas, because it is unlikely we will get any good legislation during the last two years of “Hope” and “Change.”  It is interesting to note that in this session of Congress, liberals did not complete action on the budget, any appropriations bills nor did they even bother to schedule a vote on extending the ’01 and ’03 tax cuts.  They did much bad, but did nothing good in this Congress.

I missed something in my Op Ed and that is why I am compelled now to post on Red State to supplement my screed from Human Events.  In my Op Ed I stressed that Congress has done nothing good.  I wrote that “members spent time crippling healthcare and Wall Street with ‘reform’ bills, yet they never spent time reforming the federal government.  No wonder incumbents are expected to pay a high price on Election Day.”  Because they passed unpopular legislation and didn’t spend time finishing the budget and appropriations process on time, the American people look at Congress as a collection of elitists with misplaced priorities.  The American people absolutely hate Washington, D.C.  The most compelling evidence of that hatred is Real Clear Politicshas Congress’ job approval rating at 20.5% favorable and 71.3% negative (for a -50.8% confidence gap).  The voters are going to send some sitting Members of Congress into the unemployment lines in about one month.


It is important to note that liberals will campaign against a Republican controlled Congress in the next two years, if Rs win as expected, as the “Do Nothing Congress.” The “Do Nothing Congress” mantra worked to demonize the 80th Congress from 1947-49 for President Truman.  Politicians love reading the tea leaves of history and many liberals will roll out the Harry Truman playbook in an effort to repeat the events of 1949 for President Harry Truman and Congressional Democrats.  This will only become true if conservatives ignore history and don’t get prepared now to fight back against that theme.

The Obama Administration is more likely to drop the gloves and fight against Congress than triangulate like Bill Clinton.  This Administration seems incapable of pivoting to an agenda of tax reform and entitlement reform that may have elements of bipartisan agreement.  Expect highly partisan ideas to be proposed by the President, then for the President to use the bully pulpit to accuse the next Congress of being a “Do Nothing Congress.”  In other words, expect not much to get done the next two years with Republicans in control, because President Obama will veto any conservative legislation that makes it to his desk.

 I know I am getting way ahead of the curve, but indulge me.  From

The campaign of 1948 was a study in contrasts. Dewey, as befitted a clear frontrunner, staged a very subdued campaign, hoping to assure victory by avoiding discussion of troublesome issues. Truman did the opposite, figuring that he had little to lose. He embarked on a 31,000-mile train trip across the nation and delivered hundreds of off-the-cuff speeches to crowds that often greeted the president with cries of “Give ’em Hell, Harry!” And Truman did. He lambasted the “do-nothing, good-for-nothing” Eightieth Congress for its inaction and hoped that his opponent would be tarnished in the process.  Truman raised the stakes by summoning a special session of Congress in July, proclaiming that he was offering the legislators an opportunity to enact some of the liberal planks they had proposed in the Republican platform. The results were meager, reinforcing the allegation that Congress did nothing.


When one looks at history, the “Do Nothing Congress” stood against Truman’s Fair Deal.  For that matter, a Democrat controlled Congress did not pass many elements of FDR’s New Deal.  The 80th Congress passed bills that were sent to the President, but those bills were inconsistent with the Truman vision of America.  Truman vetoed bills then campaigned against Congress.  When President Harry Truman left office, he was one of the most unpopular Presidents in our nation’s history.  President Obama is in danger of going down the same road if he decides to dig in and fight Congress.

This Congress has done much bad adn nothing good.  The next Congress will be demonized if Rs win and take over Congress as the “Do Nothing Congress” — mark my words.  Conservatives need to read up on the 80th Congress to make sure that the leaders of today don’t make the same messaging mistakes of the past.


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