Thursday, August 9, 2012

Less Is Most Definitely More

There's been a little sniping in the mainstream media as the 112th Congress begins its summer vacation.  Of course it's not really a summer vacation because since the middle of the Bush years, neither house of Congress likes to adjourn because it allows a sitting President to make recess appointments that might otherwise not pass the Senate.  Lately the recess appointments have been made anyway, which would seem to make the idea of staying in session to prevent it from happening rather ludicrous; but then again 'rather ludicrous' is usually a safe descriptor of Congress anyway.  But I digress ......

The apparent complaint with our National Legislative body is that it has accomplished too little in the way of passing laws, and therefore has not done its duty. Derision is cast on the 112th Congress for passing a repeal on Obamacare, something that many of those running for seats promised that they would do if elected.  Of course the fact that they passed such legislation 33 times since taking office might be a bit excessive, but could perhaps be explained as simply a reminder that occasionally political promises are kept .... even when doing so is meaningless.

Speaking of meaningless, ABC tells us that Congress has however proposed 60 bills to rename Post Offices, 38 of which passed Congress and 26 were signed into law.  Of course they failed to pass a law to fix the Post Office's indebtedness or even force it to fix itself.  As a consequence, the National Department Snail Mail defaulted on a previous Congressional mandate to pre-fund $5.5 billion in health benefits.  (I guess the check must have gotten lost in the mail.)  While I tend to agree with the assessment of ABC in the poor handling of the Post Office woes (oops sorry, felt like something was trying to come back up on me after making that statement), personally I find this lack of productivity rather refreshing.

The Washington Post disagrees however, and went even further in castigating those now on holiday by showing rather graphically the lack of legislative productivity from the most recent bunch; an illustration which must make Ohio's Speaker Boehner proud.

Courtesy of the Washington Post
Apparently being a newspaper inside the Beltway (though only just barely in the Springfield, VA facility) means that they are, like Congress itself, incapable of a proper assessment where this subject is concerned.  There are far too many laws and regulations in this country already, passed by the eager minds and overly productive hands of a group of people who always seem to legislate for everyone but themselves.  The mind numbing size of the Federal Register alone (the big book of Federal Regulations) has grown rather remarkably over the years from its humble origins of 2,620 pages during the FDR Administration.  In fact, the feds recently took this tome online as the only way to deal with its forest killing proportions, since it adds some 70,000 to 83,000 pages per year. (And probably a good deal more than that this year.)  

That being the case, perhaps we should be giving a standing ovation to lawmakers for the gridlock, deadlock, and partisanship which has characterized the 112th.  (Yeah, I know.  I find the idea of applauding politicians nauseating too.)   Maybe in their final session before the end of the year (which for some will include some lame duck time), we can get them to walk back some of the nonsense they and their predecessors have done over the years; subtracting rather than adding to the confusion of overlapping and contradictory federal, state, and local laws.

But listen, let's not stop with merely handing out kudos to the junior legislative body.  How about a shout out to those on the senior circuit with a 6 year-term to play with.  Oh sure you can talk about the arcane rules of the Senate, and how they've been manipulated to prevent real action on the floor; but one can't help but recognize a bunch of guys who haven't even managed to pass a budget mandated by law in three years.  That's non-performance on an epic scale.

So while the media seems intent on deriding Congress for less bang for the buck (understandable certainly, since it is filled with Republicans after all), I think that we can all easily recognize the debt of gratitude the we owe to the Senate Majority Leader for sitting in a cave on a rock and eating raw fish while contemplating 'his precious' ring of power, one that he may well lose for bringing his part of the national legislature almost to a standstill.  (Oh come on, admit it.  He does look like Gollem.)  Many may find Sen Reid's recent activities objectionable or even detestable, but for myself, I cannot help but recognize that a lack of new legislation equals a lack of new restriction.  While the Majority Leader may be seen by many as an obstacle to progress, I see him as a shining example of what government can do best for the people ... next to nothing(Though I can't help but wonder when he and his fellow Democrats will inherit 'the Party of No' mantle that they so richly deserve.)

My only disappointment in all of this is that in spite of the lack of productivity in the legislature, spending continues to increase.  Even in this apparent record level of impotence, these 435 non-union salaried employees seem to be able to throw more money away that their more productive predecessors.  I only wish it were possible to truly celebrate their lack of legislative potency with a corresponding level of frivolous monetary disbursementMore spending, more borrowing, and more scrutiny over every aspect of our lives.  Yes it appears that were the federal government is concerned these days, even their less is definitely more.


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