Congress’ Productivity

Gerald Seib had an interesting piece in a recent Wall Street Journal, not so much for what he said as for the mindset from which he said it. To wit:

We have learned in recent days that both President Barack Obama and Republican leaders in Congress seem to want to pull their parties together in the middle to get some things done in Washington.

To many in the capital, this is a long overdue development. But it also raises a question: What if the leaders get to the middle and find there’s nobody there to join them?

Well, not nobody, exactly, but fewer people than there used to be, and not enough to make the middle a consistently productive place.

Notice that: to be productive, Congress has to get things done.

Congress already has gotten too many things done, and it’s allowed the Executive Branch, through compliant funding, to get too many things done.

It passed Obamacare and Dodd-Frank to the very great detriment of millions of Americans—Americans who lost their preferred health insurance plans, who lost access to their preferred doctors, all for the privilege of paying higher premiums—and to the very great detriment of American businesses, who face overregulation and excessive taxes and so are reluctant to expand their operations, to hire, to repatriate the trillions of dollars they hold overseas.

It has taken control of States’ aid the poor through the addiction of Medicare grants, placing the States’ programs under effective Federal control.

It has rejected efforts to reform either our Social Security system, which will empty its trust fund in just four or five more Presidential election cycles, or our Medicare system, which will run out of money even sooner (to those addicts’ and their citizens’ detriment).

It has allowed the Executive Branch to explode consumer energy prices and degrade our power grid with carbon regulation, even though this same Congress rejected the measures legislatively, by continuing to fund an EPA that’s enacting these things regulatorily.

It has allowed the Executive Branch to encourage American businesses to hire millions of illegal aliens by offering the businesses tax credits to do so, with the labor force participation rate of our citizens at historic lows.

It has allowed the Executive Branch to attempt to seize control of our education system through a network of subsidies, grants, and regulation.

The list is legion; these are just a few examples.


To be productive, Congress must undo most, if not all, of that, and then it must make use of the opportunity to be quiet and stop legislating.

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