Posted by: JanF | July 7, 2011

‘Do Nothing Congress’? Not exactly.

Today’s post is not ‘nothing’.

I recently saw the 112th Congress called a “Do Nothing Congress”. This phrase refers back to the 80th Congress called the “Do Nothing Congress” by President Harry Truman during his 1948 campaign.

In terms of actual legislation passed and signed into law, one might make the case that the 112th Congress is indeed “doing nothing”. Other than a Continuing Resolution which kept the government running, three naming bills and two resolutions, there have been two handfuls (5 in each hand) of bills which were merely extensions of expiring laws. New laws? Exactly zero. It makes the 80th Congress look prolific.

But this congress is not like the “Do Nothing Congress”. This congress is more the “Fiddling while Rome is burning Congress” or more appropriately, the “Playing Political Games While Our Country Crashes and Burns Around Us Congress”.

Doing nothing when things are working fine is a good idea. The old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is excellent advice in most circumstances. The problem is that right now there is plenty broke and no one able to fix it.

There are more than a few things that need immediate attention. Immediate attention … not attention in the fall when congressfolk come back to Washington after tending to their fund raising needs or not attention that can wait until we get our majorities back in 2013.

Now. July 7th, 2011.

I am not going to number them because they are all important. They are in order by how they came out of my brain, a distinctly unscientific way of doing things but one which I have used for many years.

– The Great Recession has wiped out millions of jobs and they are not coming back
– Our immigration system is broken.
– We need jobs
– Our infrastructure is crumbling
– Jobs are needed
– Man-made climate change is causing catastrophic weather events, melting the polar ice caps and making sea levels to rise
– Our people need to be put back to work
– The richest 1% controls more wealth than the remaining 99% and the middle class is being systematically wiped out
– America has no national industrial policy and is exporting family supporting jobs overseas
– The most needy are becoming needier and less healthy
– Joblessness is leading to homelessness
– Millions of people have lost or are losing their homes while thousands of houses sit empty.
– Our dependence on fossil fuels creates dependence on foreign oil and military actions in unstable regions of the world

I can’t finish. The list of things we need to do now is already too long and adding to it just increases my despair (and my need for chocolate which I am trying to cut back on). You may notice a recurring theme, however. The 112th Congress which ran on jobs jobs jobs has not created any jobs.

The answer to these problems is not “Do Nothing”.

President Obama can’t fix our problems by himself. In our form of government, the Congress passes bills and the President signs them into law and administers them.

Yet when the president reaches out to find political partners to work on our nations problems, he gets a joy buzzer. When he sits down to bargain in good faith with congressional leaders, he finds a whoopie cushion.

Clowns on one side, jokers on the other side. Can’t we find any serious people to work on our serious problems?

We don’t have to wait until 2013 … in fact, we really can’t wait. If enough people write letters and make phone calls, we can force the current congress to Do Something. One job that American politicians do care deeply about is their own. If the American people tell them in no uncertain terms that they will lose their jobs if they don’t become part of the solution, we might finally make progress.

People talk about President Obama getting in his bully pulpit. Actually, the bully pulpit is us: We the People. Call, write and show up at town halls.


(A version of this was originally posted on 07/07/2011 at BPI Campus)

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