Can a Low Productivity Congress lecture values to us?

For a decade and more, I have pointed out that Republican members of the Senate and House do not work very hard.  Completely apart from issues of fanaticism or craziness or left-versus-right, there is the quantifiable matter of work ethic. Take for example this item that’s much in the news: this U.S. Congress has seen bills become law at the slowest pace in 100 years, even as this president has used the veto power hardly at all.

LawmkersIn the Senate, the reason for such low productivity has been filibusters, with the last 5 years containing 90% of the filibusters that ever happened across the entire history of the republic.  That is the doing of the GOP minority.

In the House,  the problem is that the GOP is the majority.  The minority has zero power in the House.  The onus at all levels and in all ways for what happens there falls on the majority. (See: Lawmakers in Name Only? Congress Reaches Productivity Lows.)  Hence, the Republican Party is responsible for a Congress that makes the “do nothing Congress” of 1948 seem frenetic.

even-worse-thanConsider this statistic to be a fluke? Ever since the far more active, Republican-led Congresses headed by Newt Gingrich gave way to the New Republicans controlled by Rupert Murdoch, every chamber led by Republicans (House or Senate) has broken records for lowest numbers of days in session, fewest hours attended by majority members, fewest committee hearings and fewest subpoenas issued.  That last statistic is especially telling, for a party that screams publicly about corruption in the Obama administration, yet holds almost no investigation hearings and calls almost no witnesses. Other than re Benghazi.

(Despite such screams earlier – that the Clinton Administrations was “the most corrupt in U.S. history,” during the first 6 years of G.W. Bush’s tenure,  when every branch and lever of government was in GOP hands and FBI agents were diverted from counter-terror duties to search for Clinton era corruption “smoking guns,” not one senior Clintonite official was ever even indicted for any kind of malfeasance of office. Not even one — the first time that has happened, ever. Talk about calling white black!)

By the way, the recent dismal Congressional inactivity record would be even worse, if you remove the nearly FIFTY times the US House of Representatives has passed futile and pointless bills to cancel Obamacare, knowing they would get nowhere. The Senate passed a budget. The House has not only failed to do so, it has refused more than twenty invitations to attend House-Senate Budget Reconciliation talks, which the Constitution prescribes as the method (not shut-downs and sequesters) for getting our fiscal home in order.

republicans-failDuring the Gingrich Era, such meetings worked. Why not now?  (Hint, it has to do with the reason that Rupert Murdoch had Newt fired.)

Now the response of any Republican who has read this far is predictable. The cant on the far right is to proclaim that government rigor mortis is a gooood thing! 

Determined to ensure that government of the people, by the people SHALL perish from the Earth, the New Confederates, adore deathlike inactivity, even though it is the most hypocritical thing imaginable.

deregulateThink! If government is too big, then the agenda should be to pass bills that aim to simplify and to deregulate. Um… duh?  And on that basis, democratic offers to reduce the number of tax loopholes should be something that any non-hypocrite conservative would be willing to discuss… along with other simplifications that bring more efficiency to entitlements.  In other words — Simpson-Bowles, the deal that has been on the table for 6 years, under which deficits would be erased and tax fairness increased. Newt and the old-less-insane republicans wanted to do this.  Rupert says — no way.

Let us make this very clear for those crying their love of small government. For all their howling against Big Government, the GOP never brings forward any bills to actually de-regulate or simplify.  ALL of the major acts of de-regulation in our lifetime — e.g. elimination of the horrid/captured Interstate Commerce Commission, or the Civil Aeronautics Board, or telecom deregulation, trucking

… and the greatest deregulation of all… the unleashing of the Internet — every one of these deregulations were performed by Democrats.

If you want to trim – judiciously and with care – there is only one party for you.

Deregulate-WordOh but there’s one exception to the pattern I just mentioned.  One industry that the Republican Party has taken the lead in deregulating, not once but over and over again, across the last 40 years, stripping the power of the peoples’ agencies to oversee and watch for excesses by banks, S&Ls, Wall Street and so onThe Finance Industry. In that one narrow field, the Republican Party at least thirty times pushed through active bills stripping away supervision. And time and again the results were the same… another giant rape-raid of the middle class.

Sorry, this is inconvenient, fellows.  And double sorry that it is not “argument by pithy FaceBook-posted jpeg.”  But dig this.  Not one of my objections or denunciations above — or elsewhere — had a single aspect that was “leftist.” I push people to read Adam Smith more than anyone else alive!  Indeed, it is the way that the Koch-Murdoch-Sa’udi owned and insane new version of the GOP has betrayed Adam Smith’s capitalism that makes me infuriated.  That and the utter refusal of today’s “ostrich” conservatives to face the simple fact that can then lead to hard-healing. To admit that:

“My side has gone stark, jibbering insane.”

== Such noble tactics ==

Right wing activists have been distributing links and tools to perform Denial of Service (DoS) attacks on the Healthcare.gov website through social networking, as pointed out by Information Week, and other websites.  Calling it civil disobedience, the aim has been to prevent shoppers from using the site to compare competitive bids to purchase their own policies from commercial insurance companies.  In other words – socialism.

“This program continually displays alternate page of the ObamaCare website. It has no virus, Trojans, worms, or cookies. The purpose is to overload the ObamaCare website, to deny service to users and perhaps overload and crash the system,” reads the program’s grammar- and spelling-challenged “about” screen. “You can open as many copies of this program as you want. Each copy opens multiple links to the site.”

Socialism-competitionJust to be clear, keep in mind that this “socialism” was the Republican Party’s own plan – designed by the Heritage Foundation, pushed by the Gingrich Congress, implemented by Romney in Massachusetts (where it has worked well) and then proposed by a Democratic President in the delusional belief that offering his opponents their own damn plan would result in open and rapid negotiation. (What naiveté!)

Consider what we’re seeing — activists who are sabotaging what boils down to a way for uninsured people to escape the Emergency Room by paying for their own commercially-competitively offered insurance policies is not exactly “letting it fail on its own, in a fair test.”  Especially since the exchanges run by a dozen blue states (New York, California, etc) are working just fine.

Hence, the poor people who are being hurt by sabotaging HealthCare.gov are mostly in red states that refused to set up their own exchanges where commercial insurance companies can competitively bid for new customers under the (Republican designed “socialist”) Affordable Care Act.

Ah, facts are inconvenient to the narrative.

== A Republican governor to watch ==

Two Republican governors have bucked the mania of their party in order to actually care about their people.  One you know about, Chris Christie of New Jersey.  Here’s another.

Sandoval CampaignKeep your eye on Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. “Sandoval is the only Republican governor whose state is both running its own health insurance exchange this year and expanding its Medicaid program under the health law. He’s arguably doing more to put the Democrats’ signature law into place than any other Republican. But in fully implementing Obamacare, Sandoval faces a double-edged sword: He’s helping bring health care coverage to a state with the second highest uninsured rate in the country, while he may be hurting his national ambitions because he’s not actively blocking the president’s law.”

Hm. Governor of a deeply purple state with extremely high rates of uninsured… Now let’s suppose he helps solve that, proves his independence… and now let’s further suppose that Obamacare actually… winds up working.  (After all, it works fine in Massachusetts.) Then who will have the last political laugh?

Sandoval would be — especially as a Hispanic — in a position to help Republicans claim “the fight over Obamacare is ancient history!”  Exactly the agile tactic they have used over every other time they were wrong wrong wrong. (Remember George W. Bush?  They don’t! Nor opposing Social Security, Medicare and Marin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.))

In fact, what’s obvious is that in a few years, suddenly, the Republican Party line will be “it was our plan, all along!” (In fact… it was.)

Watch this fellow.

== Is a Big Deal in the Offing? ==

End-Government-ShutdownOkay… now let’s look back into the past at an earlier riff of mine and you can judge for yourself whether I was naive.  This passage was posted on October 5.

Yipe. The following is from Fox. It is very harsh, factual, on-target… and from Fox. Could Rupert be asking “what have I done?” and seeking a way out?  —  begin quote:

““Compromise,” to these demagogues, is to mandate that Democrats scrap President Obama’s signature domestic legislative accomplishment, which was passed by Congress, signed into law by the president, upheld by the Supreme Court and ratified by voters who returned its architect to the White House last November.”

“Senate Democrats, of course, had been begging for a budget compromise for months – ever since the senate passed its budget last spring. But Republicans rejected this attempt at compromise 18 times, refusing to allow the Senate and House of Representatives to go to a budget conference to hammer out a deal that would have put an end to this cycle of continuing resolutions.”

To be clear, what this means is that the House Senate conference committee on the budget was invited to meet 18 times since April and it was always the GOP that refused to meet and negotiate. Every single time. And to be clearer, the House Senate conference committee on the budget is exactly where ALL of this was, is and always should be thrashed out, instead of with loony threats and shut-downs.

Moreover, the deal that was on the table, ready to be hammered out in the conference, was clear, bipartisan and probably what Speaker Boehner will ask for, next week.

(1) An end to sequester and shutdowns and debt limit threats.

(2) A substantial set of reforms to make entitlement programs more efficient and — in a few ways — more tight-fisted. The big Democrat concession.

(3) Repealing a set of maybe forty outrageous tax breaks for fat cats and specific profitable industries that never needed subsidies (e.g. oil companies) allowing some revenues to rise without raising tax rates.

Shutdown-ShowdownIt is a deal that the vast majority of moderate Americans would back and we know it from huge responses in opinion polls.  Only Tea Partiers who have signed the Norquist Pledge have blocked the deal, declaring they do not want to return to the Clinton Era surpluses… what they want is to strangle government in principle.

Hence my ongoing prediction.  The Speaker will announce that President Obama has “caved” and “allowed” the budget conference committee to meet “at last!” And because of that huge democratic “concession,” Boehner will now allow a vote on the continuing resolution on a straight up-down basis instead of under tight party (Tea) discipline, ending the shutdown and the threat of a debt ceiling crash.

And Fox will sigh with relief, then peddle that message verbatim… but without the well-deserved and apropos finger-quotes.  Sigh.

== Okay, how did that prediction from two months ago do?
Maybe a B-minus.  Yes, there is a deal afoot!  I was right about that and most were wrong.

On the other hand, it looks to be a wimpy semi-deal that solves no real problems. It lets the GOP avoid another political pummeling for causing another shut-down and the dems get to avoid the economic damage of a shut-down.  Still.  It’s nuts.  Simpson Bowles is on the table.  Grownups would pass it and move on.

1 Comment

Filed under politics, science

One response to “Can a Low Productivity Congress lecture values to us?

  1. awudu mohammed

    i really want to make money

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