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The end of the 'do-something' Congress

By Ezra Klein

obamasignigsomething.JPG

Republicans will probably win the House today. They might win the Senate, too. But either way, the brief moment in which Democrats not only controlled Congress, but held enough seats to do big things, is over. And it'll end in defeat.

Actually, scratchthat. It'll end in a few dozen politicians losing their jobs. But if you see the point of politics as actually getting things done, the last two years, for Democrats, have been a stunning, historic success. Whatever else you can say about the 111th Congress, it got things done.

There was health-care reform, of course. The bill is projected to cover 32 million Americans (lifting us above 95 percent insured) while cutting the deficit by about $140 billion in the first 10 years -- and by more after that. It creates competitive insurance markets in every state and ends the days in which insurers could turn you away or jack up your premiums because you have preexisting conditions. It empowers an independent commission to cut Medicare's costs and begins to ratchet back the tax break for employer-sponsored health-care insurance that's been at the root of many of our system's dysfunctions. Mark McClellan, who directed the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services under George W. Bush, says the bill is "an important step" and that the provisions that try to move our fee-for-service system to a pay-for-performance regime "are significant in terms of their potential for reducing spending growth." And then there were the parts that few noticed, like adding nutritional information to menus and drive-through boards at chain restaurants.

There was financial regulation, too. If you were looking for a bill that reformed the financial-services sector, as I was, Dodd-Frank probably didn't go as far as you hoped. But it did what it set out to do, creating a 21st century financial-regulation system that now includes a regulator for the consumer-financial products that filled the bubble, a systemic-risk regulator able to watch the institutions that turned the bubble into a crisis, and an array of new methods and powers that can be used to take down the firms that pose a threat to the system. And there were even some of those industry reforms that people like me wanted, notably the effort to force derivatives out of the darkness and onto exchanges and clearinghouses.

Then there was the stimulus. Too small? Absolutely. Were there votes to make it much bigger? Probably not. And even putting aside the economic relief that the expansions of Medicaid, COBRA, food stamps, tax cuts and unemployment benefits gave to millions of Americans, or the millions of jobs the Congressional Budget Office estimates the legislation created or saved, there were the investments designed to pay dividends down the road: We've begun more than 75,000 infrastructure projects, kicked off digitization of the nation's medical records, made massive investments in green energy, started a "Race to the Top" program that even conservatives agree is changing the education system, sent billions to the National Institute of Health, and more.

And those are just the big bills: The 111th Congress also passed Ted Kennedy's national service legislation, and the expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program to four million more kids, and new regulations on tobacco, and the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

That isn't to say this Congress, or these bills, were perfect. Much of this legislation has lost popularity as the economy continued to suffer, and other pieces, like health-care reform, weren't popular to begin with. The bills themselves suffer from the normal flaws and shortcomings and crass political deal-making endemic to everything Washington does. There are plenty of priorities, ranging from more stimulus to energy legislation, that simply didn't make it through Congress. And reasonable people disagree on whether these bills were worth doing in the first place -- on whether the government should do more to regulate the financial sector, or stimulate the economy, or expand health-care insurance. It's entirely possible to believe the 111th Congress did a lot, and most of it was bad.

We'll continue to have those arguments over the next few years. But we won't get anywhere on them. What's been uncommon about the past two years is that the Democrats in Congress managed to put aside enough of their disagreements to get big, important things done, things they really believed would make this country better, things they'd been fighting and working for and trying to do for decades.

That this has been the most "do-something" Congress we've seen in 40 years hasn't made much of an impression on the public. Multiple polls have found that only a minority of voters know that the 111th Congress got more done than most congresses. That's true even among Democrats. Nor has their productivity made the 111th Congress popular. But if they failed as politicians, they succeeded as legislators. And legislating is, at least in theory, what they came to Washington to do.

Photo credit: By Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post

By Ezra Klein  | November 2, 2010; 12:44 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Midterms, Congress  
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Next: The Senate still needs reform

Comments

It's entirely possible to believe the 111th Congress did a lot, and most of it was bad.
Change most to all and your good.

Posted by: obrier2 | November 2, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Mark McClellan, who directed the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services under George W. Bush, says the bill is "an important step" and that the provisions that try to move our fee-for-service system to a pay-for-performance regime "are significant in terms of their potential for reducing spending growth."


You and I both know Ezra that the key phrase there is "spending growth".

You love to tout how this reduces the deficit and that's because the path was horribly unsustainable. If it actually truly reduced it (which I don't believe it doesn when you factor in the doc fix) it does it slightly when the need is for much much more cost control.

Take on doctors and then you'll see a real sustainable healthcare plan. Everything else is eating away at the edges and picking off the low hanging fruit of insurers who everyone hates. That's the easy part. They've left the hard part for future congresses to deal with. So if that's your idea of success I guess you can call it that although that differs from my idea of success.

Posted by: visionbrkr | November 2, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

How can you argue that there is gridlock in Congress, that the rules don't allow for anything meaningful to happen, and at the same time say that this has been the most proactive Congress in decades?

Posted by: puzzlemuse | November 2, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

puzzlemuse: Because the massive gridlock coincided with some of the largest supermajorities in recent history, so they were able to force through comprehensive bills on some of their key issues. And conversely some of those smaller bills had genuine bipartisan support.

Posted by: usergoogol | November 2, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Nice obituary for the 111th.

And also why Nancy Pelosi will end up with a building named after her, while Newt Gingrich and John Boehner won't. Seriously, I still don't know what those yahoos are trying to achieve. Beyond, you know, tax cuts for rich snooty New Yorkers like me and all the other rich jerks bailed out by TARP and AIG.

Posted by: theorajones1 | November 2, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks. But doesn't the fact that so much transformative legislation passed undermine the argument that Congress rules need reform?

Put another way, looking at it from a future historical perspective, it will be the bills that are remembered, not the rules of the Congress that made them difficult to pass.

Posted by: puzzlemuse | November 2, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

This entire philosophy and argument relies on the assumption that Congress needs to be doing something.

Posted by: krazen1211 | November 2, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Few mention the second-coming of the G.I. Bill -- Senator Webb's baby and a wonderful accomplishment by this congress.

Posted by: pjro | November 2, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

When Congress does something it is usually for the Rich/Owners, not the average American. so, goodbye to the group of Congress that helped destroy what was left of America. Now we will get a bunch of Radical Republicans who can do what the Spineless Democrats were afraid to: finish America off and give it completely to the Banksters.

the Villagers will be very proud.

Evil is still evil, even the lesser of two evils. lol

Posted by: Beleck31 | November 2, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Skoalrebel hated the FDA tobacco regulation bill.

His opprobrium was the tipping point.

Posted by: gmart68b | November 2, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Historically the economy has done better when congress is out of session or is inactive.

Beyond that, our country has been economically healthier when the president and congress represent opposing parties.

No, congress doesn't need to be doing a lot... a 2000+ page health bill, really? Who can understand that, afford to live by it, or afford to do business under it?

Posted by: daveg70 | November 2, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Remember, there is roughly a month and a half remaining after the election for this Democratic-controlled Congress. The Dem's last best opportunity to 'do-something' will be the lame duck session. Pres. Obama and Congress better have their ducks set up ready to go. Fifty percent plus one if necessary.

Posted by: tuber | November 2, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Ezra:

"There was health-care reform, of course. The bill is projected to cover 32 million Americans (lifting us above 95 percent insured) while cutting the deficit by about $140 billion in the first 10 years -- and by more after that. It creates competitive insurance markets in every state and ends the days in which insurers could turn you away or jack up your premiums because you have preexisting conditions."

This will never happen and no financial expert who is outside the administration or a university believes these numbers. Medicare payments will have to substantially INCREASE, not decrease as projected by the legislation.

I was speaking this weekend with a Dem candidate for County Council who is also a physician. I mentioned the SGR to her, and she couldn't believe I knew what is was. She told me quite definitely that the SGR would have to be eliminated and Medicare payments increased. Never once did I get a sense of irony or incongruity that her position was the exact opposite of the that of the national party and the health care reform legislation.

BUT of course if we all close our eyes and chant "waste fraud and abuse" of course that will magically trim 140 billion.

Oh for the results of "competitive insurance markets" please see "competitve energy markets" or "mortgage backed securities markets" to see how this will all turn out.

Please allow me to be as elitist on IQ and intelligence as all the Palin haters are on here.

Why on earth would you think that people who are making $100,000 a year can successfully regulate an industry making billions of dollars a year where individual people make MILLIONS of dollars a year?

If they are any good at their job, they will be taken into the industry for much more money. If they are not, they will be ignored or worked around.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 2, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Tepid, incrementalist neoliberalism may be nice for giving Very Serious pundits some bogus "achievements" about which to prattle, but it's a wholly inadequate response to the severe problems of a declining nation whose middle class has been decimated by the plutocrats (and which continues to be mired in two costly and pointless wars and is inexplicably trying to start at least one more, in Yemen.)

Posted by: labonnes | November 2, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Well, you know, I bet Hitler thought the Anschluss was a stunning success, too.

Posted by: sharpokie | November 2, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Big list of people who "got a lot done":
http://www.scaruffi.com/politics/dictat.html

Posted by: rmgregory | November 2, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Ezra says:
"There was health-care reform... The bill is projected to....cutting the deficit by about $140 billion in the first 10 years."

Why does Ezra insist in repeating this already-proven-false lie of Nancy Pelosi? Do I really have to post the facts AGAIN?

Since the bill's passage at the end of March, at least $300-$400 BILLION of additional costs have been tagged on to the ACA:

+$115B added in May by the CBO for administration costs the Democrats left out of the actual legislation. In the words of the Democrat-loved CBO: "costs could go higher, because the legislation authorizes several programs without setting funding levels." As any 3rd grader might opine, no duh...

+215B (my estimate) based on the first extension of delaying Medicare cuts in June after the ACA passed. You know these cuts will never happen. I know they will never happen. EVERYONE knows they will never happen. But in order to claim 'deficit reduction', Democrats purposefully included the fantasy in the bill that Medicare rates will be cut -21%.

+15B ACA only included $5 billion to fund temporary high-risk pools through 2014. According to the administration's own Medicare authorities, the money included in the bill for 4 years of this program may not last through YEAR ONE!!

So Ezra, feel free to stop posting the debunked lies of 'deficit reduction' that progressives have been hoodwinking people with regarding the health care reform bill.

Posted by: dbw1 | November 2, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

This congress was successful in the same way that the congress of 1930 was in passing the historic Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act that caused economic ruin for the country. If Ezra was fair he would draw some charts and graphs that would show the unemployment rate during the four Pelosi/Reid years and how they went from 4% to 10%. He could draw a graph that showed how government spending and debt climbed to new records under their administration. But of course he will not. He will only post this self serving drivel to try and cheer up his liberal fan base.

Posted by: cummije5 | November 2, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I just voted. My key criterion (federal down to local races): Is the candidate smarter than the average bear? Smart enough to truly understand the issue/problem? To have an open mind? To understand the testimony, ferret out the BS? Smart enough to want to find a real solution? Frankly, I think that's actually what the Founders actually envisioned, though, sadly, that doesn't seem to be what the Tea Party members believe....

Posted by: jkeller4 | November 2, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

"Much of this legislation has lost popularity as the economy continued to suffer."

Let me help the helpless Ezra, who can't seem to figure it out. The Democrat legislation didn't lose popularity because the economy continued to suffer. Much of this legislation lost popularity because it CAUSED the economy to continue to suffer.

When businesses see big tax hikes coming for the mess Democrats created the past couple years, why in the world would they invest capital in their business and create jobs?

Posted by: dbw1 | November 2, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I bet if Ezra had two children, and one of them punched a dozen holes through the drywall of the living room with a hammer while the other took a nap, he would call his napping child the 'do-nothing' kid, and the child destroying his living room would be the 'do-something' kid!

Posted by: dbw1 | November 2, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for providing your estimates of the additional costs of health care reform act, dbw1 - I'm quite sure Ezra Klein should listen to your estimates rather than those from the Congressional Budget Office - Which has the universally-accepted final say on the costs and savings of a submitted Congressional bill. And the CBO says the health care reform bill will save $140 billion dollars in the next ten years. So, by all means, why don't you start to score bills? I'm sure you are much more educated and experienced in that field than the CBO.

And we also appreciate your astute analysis of the cause of continued economic suffering. I'm sure financial regulation - the sole purpose of which is to correct the flaws which lead to this current economic weakness in the first place - is responsible for our current economic weakness. Or something.

Thanks for you lack of logic - it reminds me of why I vote how I do.

Posted by: workmonkey | November 2, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

In respect to Employer mandates, it appears from www.BenefitsManager.net and www.AHealthInsuranceQuote.com analysis that employers nationwide will be assessed a $2,000 penalty for every employee not offered group health insurance or commonly referred to employer sponsored health insurance. Does this include part time employees that traditionally didn’t qualify or buy health insurance in the first place because of the cost vrs. Hours worked? How in the world is an employer going to absorb this cost? So if an employee doesn’t want to participate in paying their share, the employer is penalized $2,000?

Posted by: mikeoliphant | November 2, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

In respect to Employer mandates, it appears from www.BenefitsManager.net and www.AHealthInsuranceQuote.com analysis that employers nationwide will be assessed a $2,000 penalty for every employee not offered group health insurance or commonly referred to employer sponsored health insurance. Does this include part time employees that traditionally didn’t qualify or buy health insurance in the first place because of the cost vrs. Hours worked? How in the world is an employer going to absorb this cost? So if an employee doesn’t want to participate in paying their share, the employer is penalized $2,000?

Posted by: mikeoliphant | November 2, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

workmonkey:

You are obviously inexperienced at how the CBO arrives at their numbers. It is similar to the old "no doc" mortgage. You tell them something, and they accept it for the purposes of scoring the bill. They NEVER vouch for the authenticity of the assumptions, they just score them.

As dbw and I have pointed out, a large part of the CBO's savings are the 21% lower payments to Medicare providers. These were originally authorized by 1996 legislation under something called the SGR. The last one of these cuts was made in 2002. The last six times, Congress has waived the cuts because doctors rebelled. These cuts were waived this year, even AFTER the health care legislation that counted on the savings from them had passed!

As I relayed in my post above, doctors are expecting Medicare payments to increase, not decrease.

Now do you see the difference?

Posted by: 54465446 | November 2, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

workmonkey:
"I'm quite sure Ezra Klein should listen to your estimates rather than those from the Congressional Budget Office - Which has the universally-accepted final say on the costs and savings of a submitted Congressional bill."

Sadly, your post only proves a couple things about Democrats. You continue to wave around a CBO report from March, and ignore corrections made by the same CBO since then. All my sources are government agencies, or mainstream outlets like the AP or the WaPo itself. I purposefully ignore any similar analysis by Fox News, Heritage, or Cato, for the express purpose of foiling the typical progressive cannard of attacking your sources rather than addressing the facts presented.

You also prove you know little (if anything) about how the CBO works. If Nancy sends them a bill that says a program will cost $5 billion, the CBO has no freedom to make their own estimates, regardless of how much more their financial experts may know. They are REQUIRED to use spending estimates as provided by those using the bills.

One of my frequently cited examples...the CBO 'scored' the bill to fund the new Capitol Visitors center to only cost $70 million. It ended up costing over $600 million!

So unfortunately, you are probably correct. I probably could do a better job than the CBO in 'scoring' these bills. But that says more about the CBO and the rules they operate under than it does about any skills I may have.

Oh, and as an aside, the 'non-partisan' CBO is currently run by a former member of the Clinton Administration. I'm sure he doesn't put his thumb on the scales when 'scoring' these bills....

Anything else you want to challenge me on? Your post seemed to imply you don't actually know much about the details of these bills if you are simply willing to take "CBO reports" at face value, but I'm willing to listen if you have any actual facts to offer.

Posted by: dbw1 | November 2, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Such a waste. All of them are corrupt, on the take and bought and paid for so what difference does it make?

www.web-privacy.edu.tc

Posted by: clermontpc | November 2, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

54465446:
"As dbw and I have pointed out, a large part of the CBO's savings are the 21% lower payments to Medicare providers."

This reminded me of another angle I usually forget to present when it comes to the -21% Medicare cuts Democrats included in claiming 'deficit reduction' from health care reform.

Do some research sometime on the average growth in the cost of medical insurance, compared to the average growth in the cost of a college education. Over the past 20-30 years (I think when I did it, I started with 1980), the 'cost curve' is nearly identical. Yet, I don't hear many progressives or Democrats fretting about having to 'bend the cost curve' of higher education!

The -21% Medicare cuts is essentially a pay cut for doctors who perform services for patients on government health insurance. Why don't Democrats propose a -21% pay cut for all the professors and administrators at all colleges that accept federal education money?

I can just imagine Democrats going back to all the liberal professors who filled their minds with left-wing progressive garbage, and telling their professors that they need to take a -21% pay cut for the 'good of the country'.

Posted by: dbw1 | November 2, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

DBW1 and 5343blahblahblah-

I know all about the doctor pay fix - If you read Ezra's blog closer, you'll see he's written about it numerous times. The fact that you are bringing it up shows you are just parroting false talking points. The doctor pay fix is a cost that would have happened whether or not health care reform was passed - and you know it. Nor is it an offset. So basically, you remain wrong.

As far as the CBO, you still haven't suggested any alternative. How is one to score bills? You? And who is supposed to vouch for the accuracy of the numbers? You? As if you are somehow more impartial. The Republicans use the CBO to score their bills (Paul Ryan references is constantly, as did all the alternative bills)and it has been used - by both parties - for decades. Whether you like it or not, it is the final say. Of course the CBO uses numbers suggested by the lawmakers - that's how it works. The problem here is you think lawmakers are liars and cheats, which isn't the CBOs problem, it is yours.

As always, your arguments boil down to nothing other than consistently disproven conservative talking points.

Posted by: workmonkey | November 2, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

workmonkey wrote:

"The doctor pay fix is a cost that would have happened whether or not health care reform was passed - and you know it. Nor is it an offset. So basically, you remain wrong."

You are correct that everyone uses the CBO, but we should beware of the numbers, no matter whether proposed by R's or D's. We can reasonably differ on that.

However you are simply incorrect when you say "nor is it an offset". Any minimum of online research will show you that this was one of the biggest cost savings in the bill, and it is non-existent. Therefore all estimates of the cost of the legislation are wrong at ground zero. How much more cynical can you get than waiving the big cost saver AFTER you just passed it saying it would save money?

I actually enjoy the debate with you, and I'm not asserting that the CBO is partial in any way.

You see Ezra is only 26 and a good writer but knows nothing about business and believes anything an economics professor tells him over anything a businessman would tell him.

For that reason myself, and some others who are better than me, try to show him the real world so to speak. It's fun but of course no one's mind gets changed. I hope he is still a writer 20 years from now, because he might have a whole different handle on things.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 2, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

54465446, way to roll out the ad hominem!

Back to the actual topic: I'll miss the 111th congress and the sense of possibility that came with it.

krazen1211: In fact the entire philosophy of this country relies on the idea that congress can accomplish things. Well, at least it has for most of the last eighty or so years, ever since the progressive movement kicked the Robber Barons' behinds.

Posted by: djupp | November 3, 2010 3:29 AM | Report abuse

How about the truth? How about an article entitled "End of the Ram Everything We Possibly Can Through Congress Before the American People Realize What's Going On, and Oh Yeah, Let's Be as Partisan as Possible".

I guess that was too long of a title.

Posted by: jfthomp21 | November 3, 2010 6:16 AM | Report abuse

The premise of this article, written by a liberal fanatic who was forced to resign from the Post because of "JournoList", is entirely flawed. This is nothing more than a puff piece of leftist spin attempting to paint lipstick on the pig of political defeat.

Ezra, your liberals lost for 3 reasons.

1) America didn't want Obamacare shoved down their throats while Pelosi coerced, threatened, and made back-room deals to moderate dems to get the House votes to pass it

2) Democrats radically over-reached in their legislative agenda via mis-interpreting (intentionally?) the mandate they were given in 2008

and

3) Obama and dems have been anything but the "post-partisan" "unifiers" they promised they would be, in fact just the exact opposite.

Once again Ezra Klien can be shown to be spinning the leftist's POV, this time attempting to claim that an historic defeat for democrats was because, in effect, America couldn't appreciate what they did over the past 2 years rather than write the TRUTH that America voted against them BECAUSE of what/how democrats did.

Ezra Klein is a leftist shill whose words can still be found on this website in spite of his forced resignation, proving the nepotism of the liberal media establishment. His spin is still the same. Left = good; right = bad. He is unrepentantly liberal, totally subjective, and has no use for objectivity. The fact that his words can be found on the Washington Post website says a lot about the Post, which accepted his disingenuous resignation over "JournoList". Of course, we knew it was a fake out all along. Didn't you?

Posted by: DCobserver2 | November 3, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

DCobserver2 is totally misinformed or simply deluded. Facts is facts, dude! When Republicans run Congress nothing substantial and creative and good EVER gets done - that's been proven over and over again if you're any kind of student of history, which you obviously aren't. Klein's column is 100% factual, but would love for the new Congress to prove otherwise by being something other than dominated by the word "NO". No bill or piece of legislation is perfect, ever has been, but to simply say NO to everything is childlike behavior not worthy of anyone in government. Stop whining and start legislating. And THIS TIME, read a few intelligent books on the subjects you're legislating before blindly moving forward just because your Wall Street masters say so.

Posted by: flippypog | November 3, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

djupp wrote:

"54465446, way to roll out the ad hominem"

Hey, you've mistaken me. I like Ezra because he's young and passionate about what he believes. I think he's a pretty good writer too.

However he's never run anything in his life, never been in business, doesn't have any degree in economics for those who are fetishists about that sort of thing.

Plus, have you ever seen anyone quoted in his column who is not a university professor, or a member of the administration?

When he interviews Jeremy Grantham, who is both a economist AND runs his own money, I'll believe he's coming around.

Would you take serious medical advice from Ezra? Why not? Do you think business and the economy is any less specialized?

Posted by: 54465446 | November 3, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Democracy's soft underbelly is voter ignorance. Today's revolting voters might actually appreciate this Congress's accomplishments--if they had a clue what they are. They do not, and dishonest politicians are happy to exploit our ignorance. Here's how my Congresswoman demagogued the healthcare bill:

http://amorpha.blogspot.com/2010/05/lesson-in-dishonesty.html

Posted by: psuadm | November 3, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

"Let me help the helpless Ezra, who can't seem to figure it out. The Democrat legislation didn't lose popularity because the economy continued to suffer. Much of this legislation lost popularity because it CAUSED the economy to continue to suffer."

'Post hoc ergo proctor hoc' is a logical fallacy.

Posted by: AnonymousStudentT | November 3, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

These comments are especially funny. A bunch of faux-economists (who read a blog post once at band camp that said...) whining about numbers that at best are just a guess. The grand arc, so it seems, is that any government that accomplishes something is Fascist (or Socialist, or Communist--people who don't know English or history very well conflate the three as synonymous) and that because legislation is imperfect (thanks to refusal on the right to participate in any way, ever) it's worse than the nothing (that was *in fact* worse) there was before.

This country isn't dumb, it turns out. It's just populated by smart people who want so badly to feel superior and special that they'd rather nothing get done than something they don't fully understand or that isn't 100% what *they* think is right (despite their lacking any of the myriad information and education needed to understand the implications of said decisions).

Now we'll see their congress fight the good fight to disenfranchise gays, which seems to be the only thing you can all get behind, oh, and tax cuts for the top 3% because despite absolutely no proof of anything but its failures, trickle down's just special.

Posted by: kirkegaardsdog | November 3, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Question: Who thinks that it’s the business of Congress to "Do things"? The way I look at it, the Founding Fathers put checks and balances into the organization of the government to prevent it from "Doing Things". Gridlock is a great tool - it helps to keep us from doing foolish things on the spur of the moment.

Unfortunately, during 2008 and 2009, we didn't have enough road blocks in place and legislation was pushed through with insufficient time spent on vetting it ("We need to pass this bill to find out what's in it ...").

The House and Senate are paying the price today for trying to sidestep the process.

Just my opinion ... others may agree or disagree ... but please, do it professionally!

Posted by: bgirardo | November 3, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Question: Who thinks that it’s the business of Congress to "Do things"? The way I look at it, the Founding Fathers put checks and balances into the organization of the government to prevent it from "Doing Things". Gridlock is a great tool - it helps to keep us from doing foolish things on the spur of the moment.

Unfortunately, during 2008 and 2009, we didn't have enough road blocks in place and legislation was pushed through with insufficient time spent on vetting it ("We need to pass this bill to find out what's in it ...").

The House and Senate are paying the price today for trying to sidestep the process.

Just my opinion ... others may agree or disagree ... but please, do it professionally!

Posted by: bgirardo | November 3, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

kirkegard wrote:

"These comments are especially funny. A bunch of faux-economists (who read a blog post once at band camp that said...) whining about numbers that at best are just a guess."

How many big ticket items have you bought in your life when they couldn't tell you the cost but said "sign here, we'll figure out the price much later'?

Posted by: 54465446 | November 3, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

This is for Poster 54465446 and the rest of you savants saying Ezra's numbers, which are cited, are wrong: http://xkcd.com/285/

You are wrong. Get over it.

Posted by: LegalNola | November 3, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

legalnola:

I went there and all I saw were some primitive looking political cartoons but wow did they change my mind!

What must I have been thinking?

Posted by: 54465446 | November 3, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Okay Republicans, start governing. Let's see whatcha got.

Posted by: Candressuhmoose | November 3, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I think it's sad that such an active Congress will now become moot. For example, I believe that little things like requiring nutritional information to be displayed at public food spots is the key to making big changes in the daily lives of many Americans. Likewise, something like full disclosure of ingredients and health information could play into other public realms. An example would be the recent removal of AlgaeCal (the world's only organic source of plant based calcium) from the supplement New Chapter Bone Strength Take Care. The New Chapter supplement is still giving the impression that they carry AlgeCal! Requiring full disclosure would prevent bait & switch techniques just like this.

Posted by: samanthagregory9 | November 5, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

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