Less is more

The Washington Post notices that the Democratic Congress hasn’t accomplished anything yet. It observes that “not a single priority on the Democrats” agenda has been enacted.
Readers will recall that during the 2006 campaign, the Dems identified six relatively easy items, the quick passage of which would ensure them of a flying start. The six were: increase the minimum wage, implement most recommendations of the 9/11 commission, allow federal funding for stem cell research, permit the government to negotiate prescription drug prices under Medicare, cut student loan rates and roll back certain tax breaks for oil and gas companies to finance alternative energy research.
None has been enacted. The Post might also have noted that earmark reform has stalled despite the efforts of Republicans like Senator DeMint to push it into law.
Apparently, leading Democrats like Leon Panetta and Rahm Emmanuel have become concerned about this lack of legislative achievement. Panetta thinks the Dems need to turn things around by the fall. However, Chris Van Hollen, who heads the House Democratic campaign committee, says that his party has until next year, when voters start focusing on the congressional races.
I agree with Van Hollen. In fact, I would go further and question whether the Dems will pay an appreciable price even if they don’t enact much legislation by election day 2008. Parties typically sustain major losses in Congress when they are blamed for what’s considered a major national blunder and/or when the public becomes disgusted by years of bad congressional behavior. In the current environment, one unproductive Congress is unlikely to turn the tide.
But it’s not too early to start building a record against the Democratic Congress.
JOHN adds: I agree. In fact, I suspect that an “unproductive Congress” is just what a big portion of the electorate wants. The distinction I would draw is between a Congress that doesn’t do much (that’s OK) and a Congress that conveys the impression that it is not interested in conducting the peoples’ business–a risk the Democrats run as they continue to focus on “investigations” rather than legislation.
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