Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Another Reason for Plummeting Congressional Approval

1960 joint session of Congress
Reflecting on why the Congress still hovers at a 15% approval rating compared to President Obama, who has climbed back to 50% since the 2014 elections, I wondered why Congress still holds such low esteem among voters. When evaluating what Congress has done in the last six years, one can see why a lot of voters do not like Congress: they have passed very little legislation.

Yet Congress, the Constitution, and the checks and balances infused in to the federal system, were designed precisely to stymie large-scale legislative acts. Alexander Hamilton, one of the Framers, define good governance not just on passing good laws, but preventing many bad ones.

President Obama, despite the neglect of the press, has had to repeal (legally as well as by executive fiat) key portions of his horrendous legacy, Obamacare. Still an unpopular law crammed with regulatory burdens and statutory niceties, Congressional Republicans have fought hard to repeal the unpopular legislation. They should keep trying, even if the mainstream media, and the public opinion which follows, condemns the "Do Nothing" Congress.

Korea President Park US Congress 20130507 08.jpg
Americans criticizes a "Do Nothing" Congress (Korea.net)
Good legislative bodies work had to get rid of bad laws, and work harder to make sure that bad laws never see the light of the statutory record. Even the dreaded, much hated 2014 CRomnibus bill included portions which repealed unpopular, unappealing sections of the sclerotic Dodd-Frank legislation, which has hindering credit unions and small banks in their lending practices.

As far as the Framers are concerned, committed constitutional conservatives are pushing back against a Big Government getting bigger. They would applaud the current Congressional record of accomplishing very little.

Yet for most Americans, they judge the merit of Congress based on how many laws they pass.  This mentality of expecting a  "Do Something!" government is partly due to modern public schooling, which outlines, even praises the federal governments massive encroachments into domestic as well as foreign policy. History books have to write about great men doing great things in order to capture readers' attention. Large corporations and government firms which rely on federal funding also expect Congress to keep the subsidies flowing their way. Apple farmers in Washington want their legislators to provide the extra funding for raising their crops. Private aerospace and military contractors want to make sure that their money continues without interruption from the federal government, as well.

Bureaucracies as a rule want to expand, not contract, and they certainly do not want to submit to the market forces of supply and demand. When Congress is not appropriating billions of dollars to diverse interests throughout the country, no one should be surprised that a vast majority of people are angry with Congress and have no respect for the institution, in the same way that little children get angry with loving parents who do not give them everything they want.

Barack Obama addresses joint session of Congress 2-24-09.jpg
Congress needs to make adults decisions, saying "No!" to Presidential aspirations
(Joyce Boghosian)

A stalled and frustrated Congress is not granting every demand of the American people and their attending interest groups. In contrast, President Obama wants to present himself as the perennial Santa Claus, promising everything to everyone without costing anyone anything. This fantasy thinking was on full display during the President's latest State of the Union Address, where he promised free community college (does he want to pay for it?),  federally-funded daycare, then took credit for an energy revolution which he has frustrated from the beginning of his administration.

The following Sunday, on the latest edition of Sixty Minutes, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner were the adults in the room, declaring: "We can't afford it", followed by "No", and then "Dead on Arrival" to  the majority of the president's flighty, unsustainable proposals. No one likes to hear "No!", but now more than ever this country needs lawmakers who will stop the spending spree, upset the expansion of government programs, and slow President Obama's unconstitutional executive fiat.

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