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Monday, October 24, 2016

Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) — This congressional session is historic: It’s the least productive, most unpopular in memory, and makes the 80th Congress, famously labeled “do nothing” by President Harry Truman, appear prolific.

For the first time, public approval of Congress is below 10 percent. This session, which adjourns at the end of the week, has passed fewer bills than any session since World War II — the recent deeply diluted budget measure a rare semi-significant exception — and cheap political games have dominated.

The blame is bipartisan, and the White House made some egregious errors. Still, this Congress bears a Republican stamp, with the tone and agenda often set by the right wing of the party.

The Senate-passed immigration bill languishes in the House, even though it commands support from a majority of the members. Republican leaders won’t bring it up lest they face a revolt from the party rank and file.

The farm bill is stalled. It has many flaws, but a major impediment is right-wing Republicans who insist that food stamps for the neediest must be slashed.

The recently completed budget agreement could have been a big deal, with more than $1 trillion in long-term deficit reduction through major entitlement changes and closing tax loopholes or preferences. That could have won White House support and, with pressure, a majority of reluctant congressional Democrats. It would have been a shot in the arm to business confidence and markets.

The Republican right would have gone ballistic; that deal never got on the table.

The Senate, with a few exceptions, was almost as dysfunctional as the House. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision to change the rules to make it easier to confirm presidential nominations is a dangerous precedent. More dangerous was the Republican minority’s willingness to abuse the rules by waging scores of filibusters against President Barack Obama’s nominations, more than all other presidents combined. Using the filibuster routinely, thus requiring a 60-vote supermajority to get anything done, is unsustainable.

Then there is serious oversight, which should be possible even in a partisan environment. Democratic senator Carl Levin of Michigan proved that with the Wall Street investigations he led with Republican colleagues such as Tom Coburn and John McCain. A decade ago, in the House, Democrat Henry Waxman and Republican Tom Davis teamed up to investigate — and reform — postal and procurement practices and whistleblower protections. Together, they investigated steroid use in baseball and the scandal involving the friendly-fire death in Afghanistan of former National Football League star Pat Tillman.

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • elw

    I am the first to call the Radical Right fools and charlatans. But, how much more can be said about the inept Radical Right that controls the House? It is time to be painfully honest about them, to point out that they have made a mockery of the responsibilities of the House in governing and the Constitution and laws of the land, and yet many of the them will return to their seats when the next Congress is called to order. It is time to stop pointing out their individual failures and say what the real problem is, they are a danger to the Country, as big a danger as any other enemy in the world. They are open about their sole purpose, which is to tear the laws of the land down and to paralyze the Government. They lie, cheat and pretend that they have the good of the Country in mind, while filling their own pocketbook and ambitions. It is time to get the money out of elections, to attack the gerrymandering that makes most of their seat safe, and to take responsibility as individuals voters, journalist, elected officials and put a stop to their behaviors. It will take more than an election alone, it will take some Journalist unafraid of reporting the truth and honest law makers who put their Country before their own need to win the next election. This Country will not survive without a functioning Government, scared elected officials or with a populist and journalistic community too lazy or selfish to protect it.

    • Michael Kollmorgen

      As typical, the overall American has a very short memory and certainly an attention span, let alone intelligence.

      Most of these creeps will be returned, you can bet on that. Anyway, what does it matter?, if they’re not re-voted in, someone else will replace them who is just as bad, if not worse.

      The problem is, no matter what the public does, the foundation, the structure of our government remains the same. Therefore, there will NEVER be any real substantial changes.

      If nothing else, these politicians have learned how to better manipulate the system to their advantage(s), not ours.

      And, we the people, are all suckers for falling for it every single time!

      • elw

        Sorry Michael, while I somewhat agree with you, I can not be that negative about it. I believe that they will get away with it but not forever – sooner or later they will go too far and they will be voted out.

        • iamproteus

          ….but at what cost?

          • elw

            What costs are you talking about?

          • iamproteus

            i.e., how much damage will/can they do before they are finally voted out?

          • elw

            Not as much as when they have a President in the White House to back them up, but too much anyway. Not much we can do about that but keep working on taking away their power.

        • Mikey7a

          Yeah, well maybe in the “sane” world, but never down here in the Southern States. My local CBS Affiliate comes out of Mobile, Al. ALL the incumbent (R)’s are winning by huge margins. The very people getting screwed out of the help they so disparately need, are exactly the same ones who are re-electing these Traitors. It sickens me, truly!

          • elw

            I have to agree that those red Southern States will hang on to their Rs until hell freezes over. Makes me wonder considering they are the biggest users of food stamps and other safety net programs for the poor.

        • William Longley

          AMen brother…I have confidence in the American people. These gutless wonders will only go so far and then the sleeping giant (we the people) and sweep them out of office

          • elw

            A recent Gallup poll showed that the least amount of people ID themselves as Republican since the 1980’s. They are killing themselves with their behaviors and words.

  • Michael Kollmorgen

    As the situation now stands, we’re all probably better off NOT having a Congress what so ever.

    The way communication these days is, there is nothing preventing our population from voting on all these issues by ourselves that Congress suppository deals with. There would be NO Filibusters, NO PACS, NO lobbyist, NO left or right, NO Gerrymandering of political districts..

    The logistics of it would be enormous, but if it were set up correctly, everything would be enacted by a majority YES vote. And, I believe we would get a better government, a true democracy as a result.

    I would also advocate that EVERYTHING is done this way, all the way down to the local level(s). We could take a once-a-year paid one or two week leave from our jobs to vote on all these issues.

    You may use this time either as a paid vacation or to use it as your right to vote.

    Either way, the “public” wins by getting an educated voter and/or paid time off from work.

    • Lisztman

      Sorry, Michael. I have to disagree.
      While it is bad enough that there are so many TP (and others) Congresspersons who failed Civics 101 so badly that they don’t understand the concepts of compromise — they are, for the most part, at least somewhat educated.

      I highly doubt that any of them actually believes a lot of the tripe they spout. But it’s that stuff that gets them elected. Their constituencies, on the other hand, actually believe that the gummint is out to get them; that 90% of the people receiving food stamps are selling them in order to buy drugs and drunks; that the ACA is all about death panels; and the like.

      Do you really want them to vote on typical legislative esoterica?

      • Michael Kollmorgen

        Well, you are overall right;)

        But, I do think IF the public were to get fully involved in the political process, unlike what we are now, our country would “hopefully” get a more educated voter.

        You know, it’s one thing to get fed all this information through the mass media versus reading this legislation ourselves. I would also hope that IF we were to actually read it, piece by piece, it would be presented in a more readable form, more simplified I mean. Some of this stuff is books in length and would take a lawyer to understand.

        Maybe in the end, it might be a forgone hope to expect the public to become educated. But, at least it’s a nice thought.

        I still hold out hope that knowledge is freedom.

  • tdm3624

    They spend way too much time scheming how to stay in power rather than how to responsibly govern. The sad thing is that this strategy has worked effectively for years.

  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    How can you accuse this Congress of being a “do nothing” group? After all, didn’t the House pass 45 or so bills to abolish or defund the ACA? Didn’t the Senate have more filibusters than all 112 Congresses combined that preceded it? How can you say they are a “do nothing” group? Maybe if you called them a “do-anything-they-could-to-avoid-doing-real-business Congress” I could buy that!

  • 2hheels2

    Congress is the biggest waste of taxpayer money. They complain about people on the government dime when they are the worst. No benefits, no pay after they leave office. Time to take our money back because they surely don’t earn it.

    • Bill Quigley

      You left out no lobbing congress for at least ten years or more after leaving. Many congressmen and women leave congress only to come back as highly paid lobbiest.

  • Defend Liberty

    Within a vast impersonal civilization, competition is superior to cooperation because competition is a process of adaptation and discovery.

    • latebloomingrandma

      Life on planet Earth is not an either-or proposition.. Your short sentence describes the survival of the fittest. If our country and civilization is supposed to be superior and advanced, we also need to care about each other.

      • Defend Liberty

        I thought that liberals worshiped at the altar of evolution?

        Are you now telling me that liberals don’t believe in evolution? Is there a particular grudge that you harbour against science?

        • Paul Bass

          Evolution is a religion? No it is a scientific theory, which basically mean a “fact” UNTIL proven otherwise, which it hasn’t been.

          No we progressives just harbor a grudge against condescending pompous windbags…

          • iamproteus

            “condescending pompous windbags…”

            Paul, you are being much too kind to “Defending Liberty”.

  • James Bowen

    First of all, the Senate-passed immigration bill is not languishing in the House. Sen. Reid has not sent it to the House yet (likely because he is afraid it would be blue-slipped as it has appropriations in it). Nonetheless, it is not known whether it has the support to pass the House. The House has thus far refused to act on or pass anything like it because the American people are strongly opposed to it. Hopefully they will let it die, but I won’t rest easily.

    • Lola Johnson

      I’ve seen no evidence that the American people are opposed to an immigration bill. Clearly, the big money groups are opposed to it. They like having a labor force that must live in the shadows, having their wages stolen, unable to complain because of fear of deportation. Most Americans, I believe, would like to see immigrants protected by the same laws as the rest of us, and not afraid to call the police about crime, or to demand an honest wage. Tthat would benefit all American workers.

      • James Bowen

        Are you kidding? The big money groups are the ones who are pushing so hard for it. They want cheap labor. Meanwhile Americans do not like having to compete with so many foreign workers for jobs and having their wages depressed. Groups like National Council of La Raza and America’s Voice are little more than front groups for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. If you don’t believe me, go to and compare the number of visitors to these sites to those of NumbersUSA. NumbersUSA beats them by more than an order of magnitude.

    • Independent1

      I’m not sure I would say that Americans are strongly opposed to the immigration bill. According to a recent article in the Huffington post, PEW research has shown that only 19% of Americans are actually following the bill closely, and that 38% of Americans don’t have an opinion while 33% oppose it and 28% are in favor. There’s only a 5% difference between those in favor and those opposed – that hardly can be characterized as “Americans are strongly opposed to it.”

      • James Bowen

        I would agree that, on a day to day basis, most Americans don’t follow the immigration issue closely and therefore probably don’t have very strong opinions on it one way or the other. However, when the issue is thrust on them, as it has been to a certain extent this year, they have thus far come down firmly on the side of reducing immigration and cracking down on illegal immigration. Polls on this subject are all over the place and their results seems to depend on who is asking. The indications outside of polls are that there is almost no popular support for the Senate bill whatsoever. The message that members of Congress have heard from their constituents on this bill has been an extremely negative one. One Congressman back in July said that he had gotten 1800 calls on the Senate bill and that only 12 supported it while 1788 opposed. Another indication is internet ratings. According to, in October NumbersUSA had well more than ten times the visitors as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and well more than 20 times the visitors that America’s Voice had.

        • omgamike

          Numbers USA is hardly a nonpartisan group. They are highly anti-immigrant in their stance. Immigration reform is extremely important. The devil is in the details. In the never ending series of amendments which always somehow get tacked onto the original bill, which offer exemptions and loopholes everywhere. Examples from past efforts are requiring a background check, but only allowing one day to do it. Or allowing not only the individual undocumented person and his immediate family to stay here, but also all their extended family members. And so on and so on. I am strongly against illegal immigration, but the system must be reformed, to somehow allow a majority of those already here to remain here. Not anyone with a criminal record, no person with any gang affiliation. I also do not believe in the anchor baby problem we have. I would even go so far as to say that our overall immigration numbers must be put on hold. Right now our country cannot afford any more immigrants. Not until we can take care of all American citizens who are presently struggling to just survive.

          • James Bowen

            I agree that we can’t afford more immigrants, or more generally, a larger population. That being said, there is no need to let those here illegally stay. They broke the law, and we have no legal obligation to accomodate them. Letting them remain here would put even greater pressure on an already miserable job market. We have every legal right to reduce our population by at least 11 million, and we should not hesitate.

            By the way, NumbersUSA is in fact a non-partisan group. They do not affiliate with either party, and I think it is probably safe to say the the Republican National Committee hates their guts!

          • omgamike

            It would be impossible to deport 11 million people. Just enforce existing laws on hiring of undocumented individuals. If they cannot find work, they will go home on their own. And if we put a few employers in jail, that would also help cut down on the hiring of undocumented workers. My few dealings with NumbersUSA immediately struck me as a rah-rah Minute Man type of group.

          • James Bowen

            No it wouldn’t be. Eisenhower deported a million in three months during the summer of 1954 with only 1000 INS agents, and 2 million others left on their own accord when they saw that the law was seriously being enforced.

            That being said, I actually strongly agree with you that the best way to do it would be to enforce the laws in the workplace and against outlaw employers. This could be done with existing resources and would prevent future illegal immigration.

            NumbersUSA is actually a very diverse group of people. Yes, there are Minuteman types who are members (not that I have a problem with that), but their leaders are very level headed and politically shrewd.

          • Independent1

            You should be encouraged that the Obama Administration has rounded up more criminal type illegals over the past 5 years than any previous president. Well over 200,000 of them this year (about 55% or over 420,000 illegals that were deported in 2013).

          • James Bowen

            These numbers are actually cooked. They now count apprehensions at the borders as “deportations”, which they did not do prior to this administration. Traditional deportations have nosedived under this administration. None other than President Obama admitted this.

          • Independent1

            All that is total nonsense. You’re obviously listening to too much Faux News!!

          • James Bowen

            I actually don’t watch or listen to Fox News (that is a pro-amnesty news channel, by the way). But I am not making this up, Pres. Obama did admit this. Articles such as this one you mention are not diligently researched (hardly surprising given the quality of journalism we have these days). Here is the report on what I am talking about:

          • Independent1

            As I suspected, Obama did not start the policy of counting returnees and deportees – it was started at least by the Bush Administration and may quite likely be the way deportations have always been counted. Here is an excerpt from a Huffington Post article when Lamar Alexander apparently thought that the Obama administration was cooking the books (note the last paragraph which confirms that the Bush Administration deported far fewer immigrants than Obama):

            WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee unleashed its latest attack Friday on the Obama administration for its immigration enforcement: a claim that the Department of Homeland Security is “cooking the books” on deportation by including undocumented immigrants who are caught at the border and then sent away.

            It’s partially true. Immigration and Customs Enforcement under the Obama administration does count those removals in its total deportation figures. The problem with the claim, though, is that the policy isn’t really an Obama-era conspiracy — it’s just the way deportation numbers have been tabulated for years.

            The George W. Bush administration also counted immigrants caught at the border, in both general enforcement and as part of a program started in 2008 called the Alien Transfer Exit Program, the program with which the committee takes issue. Bush also deported fewer people per year — far fewer in some years — than the current administration.

          • James Bowen

            Maybe it did start under Bush (who’s views on immigration are similar to those of President Obama’s), but it became far larger scale under the current administration. Here is more info: Note that in December 2010, the Washington Post revealed that in February 2010 deportations had fallen so they started counting far more border jumpers that traditionally had not been counted. The bottom line is that traditional deportations (i.e. internal removals for immigration violations alone) have fallen under this administration, and what workplace enforcement there is almost never results in deportation of the workers anymore.

        • Independent1

          i certainly can’t disagree with what you’re saying, but I think you have to look at some of the numbers you stated with some common sense. Given that the vast majority of American’s really don’t understand the beneficial side of immigrants being in America and how they positively impact our economy far more than negatively impact it, and most therefore believe immigrants are just negatively affecting the country; there really is no big “pro immigration” force going on in America.

          The anti-immigrant forces in the country are far more committed to being against immigration than pro-immigration forces are about creating fairer immigration policies. So it makes a lot of sense that those that are mostly calling legislators are those on the anti-immigrant side; my guess is that the anti-immigration organizations have been prodding their followers far hard to do just that than pro-immigration forces have been doing. The fact that almost 40% of Americans basically say they don’t have an opinion one way or the other, is pretty clear evidence that pro-immigration forces don’t have the motivation and sway that the anti-immigration forces have.

          • James Bowen

            Once again, polls don’t really constitute evidence. They are highly unreliable, and on the immigration issue they are all over the place.

            I disagree that the pro-immigration acceleration side is not as committed. It is being pushed by big business and they have literally spent billions for the last few years lobbying for amnesty and immigration increases. They have all but bought off our media, academics, churches, the two major political parties, and even labor unions on this issue. They have all the money and clout that can be mustered. What they do not have at all is popular support–at the moment it is statistically insignificant. If that were not the case, with this kind of financial and institutional backing amnesty and immigration increases would have passed years ago. It is not just the right wing of the Republican Party that is opposing this. The opposition is far more diverse than that.

            The push to grant legal status to illegal immigrants and increase immigration is all about cheap labor, i.e. money, and it is being cloaked in all kinds of noble talk about civil rights, opportunity, nation of immigrants, etc. The reality, no matter what anyone’s views are on the issue, is that there are physical limits to how many people the U.S. can provide for. Immigration is almost the sole reason U.S. population is growing and our resource base is under increasing strain because of it. We must stabilize our population if we want to preserve a decent quality of life for future generations, and that means we must reduce legal immigration and crack down on illegal immigration. None other that Barbara Jordan called for this shortly before her death in 1996.

          • Dominick Vila

            You are correct. Most Americans don’t understand the importance of immigration, which is ironic considering that ours is a nation of immigrants.
            The worse part of this debate, however, is that most Americans don’t understand the issue that is being discussed. The most important part of this proposal is not to do a sequel to what President Reagan did in 1986, when he granted amnesty to five million illegal immigrants, but the need to change our immigration laws to solve the problem once and for all. Amnesty simply kick the can down the road for someone else to deal with this problem 10 or 20 years from now.
            BTW, Georgia learned the same lesson Alabama did when their anti-Latino immigration policies were put in place and their agricultural sector was severely impacted.

          • James Bowen

            Immigration is the only thing that is causing our already excessive population in the U.S. to grow. We must stabilize our population, and that means reducing immigration. We will get along just fine with much lower immigration. Our best years as a nation were 1945-1970, years during which we had low immigration.

            And there was no severe impact on agriculture in Georgia and Alabama. Crops still got picked and produce stands still got filled. If a few growers went out of business because of it, I would say good–that’s the least they deserve for profiting from illegal activity.

  • The sad truth is even worse. It isn’t about strict discipline and ideological purity. It’s about punishing America for having voted for a Democrat.

  • Lovefacts

    Our current government isn’t functional and hasn’t been for a long time. It’s must more obvious now. IMO, it started during the 1980s when being elected to office was no longer about being a service to our country but was seen as a way to gain power and fortune and all about “me.” Today, many members of Congress seem to be functional literates in economics, US and world history, and the US Constitution. Decisions are made for the support of two groups, business and religion, to the exclusion of the the country as a whole. Unfortunately, as NAFTA has proven, Democrats swim in the same cesspool.

    If you doubt me, take a look at the current trade agreement under consideration, behind closed doors, by the WH—the one the Europeans signed and are now revoking approval. It allows companies to challenge all our environmental, which includes air, water, pollution standards, mining, what happens in National forests and parks, and also minimum wage, tax law, and so on, claiming it creates an undo hardship on the business that doesn’t exist for their companies in Bangladesh or China or VN or wherever. The effect of this treaty is to invalidate our laws and Constitutional rights.

    Have we heard a pip against it from the Republicans, screaming this will lead to a world government? Of course not, big business has bought them but the government will be run by their paymasters, business. That the Obama administration, which claims to be for the middle class, supports this treaty sickens me and proves how pervasive the rot is within our government.

    • Michael Kollmorgen

      Your first paragraph says it all – very well.

      We DO need to get the trash out. But without changing things dramatically, I don’t see anything short of a revolution actually doing any good. I’m not advocating it, but it sure looks like that’s what its going to take.

      Like they say; Talk is Cheap! Everyone’s got a brain (I think everyone’s got one) and everyone’s got a asshole. Garbage in – Garbage out.

  • howa4x

    This would be laughable if the country didn’t have so many problems. We still have chronic unemployment, and corporations sitting on mountains of cash and would hire if they saw stability from the congress. We still have 60,000 bridges in need of repair, and 6000 in danger of imminent collapse , like the one in Minnesota. We need to have a force draw down agreement with Afghanistan signed and ratified, as well as an agreement with Iran on its nukes. Staff reductions at such vital places as the CDC puts us all at risk if another pandemic strikes, and the NIH which helps invent needed medicines and is the leader in working on genome which will be the basis for a new generation of drugs is failing behind due to cuts. We need tax reform and not just entitlement reform, immigration reform, gun safety reform, sentencing reform, and a host of others. The House prides itself on what it didn’t accomplish but may not be rewarded by an angry public who wants more done.

    • James Bowen

      Yes, we do need immigration reform that drives all illegal aliens out, reduces legal immigration to match emigration, eliminated most guest worker programs, slashes student visas, eliminates birthright citizenship, and truly prevents future illegal immigration.

  • howa4x

    This can really be called the Nero congress. It fiddled while the country is imploding around it. Soon more bridges will fall, and more layoffs will come as corporations get tax credits for shipping jobs overseas. This congress has left people to fend for themselves, denied food to hungry children and presided over the biggest income gap in history. Their only activity was to constantly and relentlessly repeal the ACA as a show rather than offering one suggestion on how to make it better. We would all be much better off it they didn’t convene at all.