Ordinarily we would be writing now about what Congress was hustling to get done before leaving town. This year Congress left town before doing very much.
The Seattle Times ticked off what departing federal lawmakers left dangling:
- A farm bill with provisions to aid farmers damaged by severe drought;
- A long-term transportation bill;
- Domestic violence legislation;
- Student aid; and
- Budget and tax measures to avoid plunging off the so-called fiscal cliff.
And that doesn't include anything that might qualify as job-creating legislation to speed economic recovery.
Instead, the 112th Congress has earned the epithet of a "do-nothing Congress." It could just as easily be the "blame the other guy" Congress.
So, the country is left to twiddle its thumbs — or wring its hands — for the next six weeks until the general election is over. Then congressional leaders say they will return to town and take up all the major issues it left undone.
A close presidential vote and continued split control of the U.S. House and Senate may not seem like much of a flash of light that illuminates how to unsnarl congressional gridlock. Perhaps, lawmakers have known all along what compromise would look like, but didn't want to tell anyone before they voted.
We may be undermining America's objective to serve as a beacon to the rest of the world on how democratic government works. Planned economies have ideas, implement them and they fail. We just talk, let problems fester and throw a Hail Mary policy pass. What a choice.
The Omaha World-Herald scolded Congress for its do-nothingness, noting Nebraska's governor and legislature diligently worked out compromises to balance the state budget and enact a small tax cut. Other states could tell similar stories of more civil, productive processes in the conduct of the public's business.
If spanking was allowed in politics, there would be some sore hind-ends as congressmen and senators return home to campaign on their records. They may discover first-hand why the overall congressional approval rating is in single digits.
But there is hope. College football Saturdays, the World Series and the machinations of replacement NFL refs will amuse the populace until it is time for Congress to make some real decisions. Just in the nick of time.