What's worse than a 'do-nothing' Congress?


Which—frankly—is most Congresses

Peter Orszag, veteran economics advisor in both the Clinton and Obama generations advances a view that is getting on my last nerve:

Peter R. Orszag, Bloomberg View: Do-Nothing Congress Is Your Fault

The most important problem facing our national government is political polarization, because it makes governing virtually impossible — unless one party can dominate the House, Senate and White House.

Notice what he thinks is most important.

Not a president refusing to execute the laws of the United States or defend the Constitution—or even the border.

No, the “most important problem” to Orszag and folks like him is gridlock.

This is one of those leftist memes (transmitted by an amazing number of “moderate” journalists) that drives me nuts.

I think it’s the most insidious of the liberal memes (even more so than my gripe from the other day about “Compromise” Shaming).

“Compromise” Shaming muddies the water (or poisons the well…or something).

But the “do nothing” thing leads to active, and often permanent, mischief.

Like immigration reform that wouldn’t have prevented the tragedy that somehow compels us toward a ‘solution’

Andrew Johnson, National Review Online: GOP’s Schock: ‘There Is Nothing’ in Immigration Bill That Would Have Prevented Border Crisis

Representative Aaron Schock (R., Ill.) pushed back against Democratic claims that the border crisis could have been averted if Republicans had passed comprehensive immigration reform last year. In fact, it is President Obama’s policies that have led to this situation, he said.

“There is nothing in the Senate immigration bill that would have stemmed the tide of these refugees seeking asylum in America — that’s a fact,” Schock said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. Additionally, House Democrats’ proposals would not have prevented the surge of unaccompanied children, he argued.

Schock blamed “the president’s ambiguity on whether or not he will enforce America’s borders and the rule of law that we currently have on the books,” and pointed to Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson’s recent vagueness over whether these unaccompanied children would be sent home.

“More than any new law, the president needs to be clear what his intent is in enforcing our nation’s laws,” Schock said.

But, yeah, let’s get something passed. Let’s get a deal done. Even if it doesn’t accomplish anything.

Or actually makes it worse—like, say, immigration reform in 1986.

Which led us to where we are today.

How about desperate gun control measures inspired by Sandy Hook—but that wouldn’t have prevented it?

I wrote about this a while back:

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.

In this case, no champion of the various legislative solutions offered yesterday claimed any of them would have prevented Newtown. Especially in the area of background checks.

And since Newtown was the catalyst for this “national conversation,” and preventing another Newtown was the supposed purpose of this debate, then the whole thing was a sham.

Which is bad for representative democracy and undermines the Constitution.

So I offered a few modest suggestions:

If you’re Congress and you’re thinking of passing a particular piece of legislation, ask yourself these four questions:

  1. Is it constitutional? (If not, stop.)
  2. 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.)
  3. Is it necessary? (If not, stop.)
  4. 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.)

You know where this would lead, don’t you?

Gridlock. One of the greatest and least appreciated gifts from the Founders.

What do you think?


Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News
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