Ezra Klein makes a compelling case in The Washington Post that the 112th Congress is the worst of all time. He lists 13 reasons why things have hit a new low, ranging from Senate Democrats refusal to even participate in the formal budgeting process to House Republicans obsession with repealing the health reform law at the expense of other legislative duties.
This would all be a riducluous sideshow if it didn't have such serious consequences. The most important of those is that Congress' lack of action is arguably a major factor in perpetuating a very sluggish economic recovery. But more than that, lawmakers' inability to break through the political polarization to address key issues is sending us down a dangerous path.
In conversations with high-ranking executive branch leaders lately, I keep hearing a recurring theme -- that on any issue of major importance, there's virtually no confidence that Congress will be able to address it effectively, or give agencies the tools and direction to function effectively. So the discussion is all around setting up alternative mechanisms to the regular legislative process -- in the form of special commissions -- in an effort to get anything done. That's simply no way to run a country, especially when members of Congress find ways to thwart the work of independent panels that actually try to address issues in a bipartisan fashion.
Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.
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