Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Abysmal Republican Congress

A new poll reported in the July 26 Washington Post, More Americans unhappy with Obama on economy, jobs, indicates that more than a third of those polled believe that President Obama’s policies are hurting the economy and that confidence in his ability to create jobs is eroding among his base. The poll also found that as many people blame Republican policies for the poor economy as they blame the president. But, on the issue of jobs, the poll shows that more people disapprove of the Republican performance (65 percent) than they do of the president’s performance (52 percent). Which sort of makes me wonder why the Post headline centers on President Obama.

Despite the perception by political pundits that conservative philosophy is now dominant in our country and that liberals are a dying breed, the results of the Post poll indicate clearly that the American people expect the government to fix our ailing economy. I see no indication in the poll that anybody blames businesses—whether large or small—for the state of our economy. Likewise, nobody faults business for failing to create more jobs.

I assume from the article that the designers of this poll phrased their questions in terms of policies (e.g. Do you believe that the policies of X are helping or hurting the economy). Yet policies can have no real effect on the economy. It is only actions that can make a difference. And, dear reader, under our Constitution it is the Congress, rather than the President, that must take action. Only the Congress can enact legislation. The President gets to vote on legislation only if and when the Congress passes it.

Congressional Republicans won a significant victory in the 2010 national elections. The Republicans, with John Boehner and Eric Cantor as their leaders, now control the House of Representatives. Further, the Republicans, with Mitch McConnell and John Kyl as their leaders, now have sufficient votes in the Senate to maintain a filibuster and thus block legislation they oppose. You would think that with as many votes as the Republicans have they would have been able to enact some significant legislation in this the first session of the 112th Congress. If that’s what you think, reader, you are thinking wrong.

In the nearly seven months that the 112th Congress has been in session it has enacted only 23 public laws. This compares with 283 public laws enacted in the 110th Congress and 205 public laws enacted in the 111th Congress during the first seven months of those congresses.

Among the 112th Congress’s laws you have such significant legislation as 1- a law naming the federal courthouse in Yuma, Arizona, after John M. Roll; 2- a law naming the federal building and courthouse in Martinsburg, West Virginia, after W. Craig Broadwater; 3- a law providing for the appointment of Stephen M. Case to the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution; 4- a law naming the United States Postal Service building in Inverness, California, after Specialist Jake Robert Velloza; 5- a law providing for the reappointment of Shirley Anne Jackson to the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution; 6- a law providing for the reappointment of Robert P. Kogod to the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution; 7- a law naming the United States Postal Service building in Rootstown, Ohio, after Marine Sgt. Jeremy E. Murray; and 8- a law naming the United States Postal Service building in Cary, Mississippi, after Spencer Byrd Powers, Jr.

After subtracting these eight pieces of landmark legislation, that leaves 15 public laws of substance that the 112th Congress has enacted. Or, has it? Three of those laws were temporary extensions of the continuing resolution providing funding for the federal government. Two laws extended two programs of the Small Business Administration first from January 31, 2011, to May 31, 2011,and then to July 31, 2011. Another law extended two programs under the Patriot Act from February 28, 2011, to May 27, 2011. Three public laws extended the taxes and authorization of the Airport and Airways Trust Fund first by two months, then by an additional month and finally by an additional 22 days. One law extended the entire Patriot Act by five years. Another law extended the operation of the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission by seven months. And, one law extended programs under the Surface Transportation Act through September 30, 2011. So, twelve of those public laws did nothing but extend the expiration dates of certain programs.

This leaves us with three significant public laws enacted by the 112th Congress between the beginning of January and the 26th day of July. These three laws are: Public Law 112-9, which makes three minor changes to the Internal Revenue Code; Public Law 112-10, which provides funding for the federal government through the end of fiscal year 2011; and Public Law 112-18, which authorizes appropriations for the intelligence activities of the Government.

That’s all folks.

The Republican dominated Congress has passed no laws addressing our troubled economy. The Republican dominated Congress has passed no laws creating jobs.

What has the 112th Congress done? The Republican controlled House of Representatives, led by John Boehner and Eric Cantor, voted to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, voted for a budget that would eliminate Medicare and has held the country hostage for months by refusing to pass legislation enabling the Secretary of the Treasury to pay the government’s lawful obligations after next Tuesday.

What a wonderful Congress!

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