Megan O’Neil, writing in Bloomberg:
The current U.S. Congress, facing a backlog of unfinished business and sliding approval ratings, is on pace to clear fewer bills than its predecessor — which had the least number of measures signed into the law since modern record keeping began in the 1940s.
She says this as if Congress not passing a lot of unproductive or even damaging laws is somehow a bad thing.
O’Neil quotes Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institute saying,
“The problem arises from a Republican House unwilling and unable to engage in the normal process of negotiation and compromise with the president, and their continued willingness to live with a destructive sequester.”
I guess we already knew Mr. Mann wasn’t exactly a small government conservative. I found it amusing, though, when I clicked on his name and was taken to a list of Bloomberg articles that mention him. The second article on the list is entitled Dodd-Frank Shows How Congress Can Overcome Deadlock.
Dodd-Frank is the poster child of legislation Congress cobbles together to “fix” a problem Congress itself created.
And the irony of its name is beyond parody.
O’Neil then quotes Ronald Peters:
“It is Republicans who don’t like Washington and prefer to spend as much time as possible in the districts,” Peters said in an e-mail. House Speaker John “Boehner has an additional problem — a fractured conference. So, if they cannot agree on what to do in D.C., they are better off staying home and cozying up to constituents.”
Again, she’s quoting him as if what he’s describing is a bad thing.
As if spending time with the people you claim to represent, hearing their concerns, and answering their questions is bad for democracy.
My thesis? If Congressional Democrats had spent more time at home hearing their constituents’ feedback on Obamacare, this train wreck wouldn’t be happening to us now.
Back in April I wrote a post (What happens when they’re not even aiming at the target they claim they’re trying to hit?) begging Congress to stop passing huge, complicated laws just so they could demonstrate to voters (and the press) that they’re “doing something.”
Here’s part of what I said:
If you’re Congress and you’re thinking of passing a particular piece of legislation, ask yourself these four questions:
- Is it constitutional? (If not, stop.)
- Is the problem you’re seeking to solve a) a federal issue or b) more effectively solved by the states? (If “b,” stop and defer to the states.)
- Is it necessary? (If not, stop.)
- Will it work (will it actually solve the problem you’re claiming you want to solve)? (If not, stop until you have something that will work.)
Politicians are addicted to appearances. It is far easier for them to pretend to accomplish things than to enlighten voters. They love to be seen as acting to solve some crisis and for their opposition to be seen undermining solutions.
In my (very ardent) opinion, any law passed that is either unneeded, won’t work, or has unintended consequences undermines the Constitution whether the Constitution technically allows it or not.
I’m reminded of a tweet someone put up during the aftermath of the Wendy Davis brouhaha to the effect that the Texas legislature would be so much more effective if it met full-time and had full-time legislators.
Not in Texas.
Texans don’t truly feel safe except during those times when the Texas legislature’s not in session.
I feel the same way about Congress.