Closing the books on a mess of a Congress

Americans can give thanks this holiday season for an end to the reckless and destructive 111th Congress.

This is the Congress that passed Obama­care — against the wishes of a substantial majority of the public — on Christmas Eve last year. In the dead of night, Democratic lawmakers stuffed the monstrous 2,700-plus page bill with special-interest goodies and political payoffs such as the Cornhusker Kickback and the Louisiana Purchase.

As we have learned since, most members were unaware of the bill’s contents three months later, when it gained final passage in the House. No surprise that its immediate results — both intended and unintended — have been almost uniformly bad.

Similarly, odds are that not one member of the 111th Congress actually read the so-called cap-and-trade bill before it passed the House in June 2009. Even a speed-reader could not have digested House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman’s last-second, 309-page amendment, which read as clear as mud. It was filed after 1:30 a.m. just before the vote on final passage.

Also, there is serious doubt that any member of Congress understood the 2,000-page financial reform bill that Congress passed last summer. One of its two main sponsors, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said, “No one will know until this is actually in place how it works. But we believe we’ve done something that has been needed for a long time.”
And Democrats wonder why Gallup polls found this Congress to be the least popular in the history of its polling.

After suffering a comprehensive and humiliating defeat in the midterm election, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the unfrocked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led lame-duck congressional Democrats on a last-minute charge for more federal spending, debt, earmarks, taxes and regulations. They unsuccessfully pushed for the biggest tax increase in American history, a yearlong spending bill loaded with pork and a DREAM Act to award amnesty to certain children of illegal immigrants.

We hope that voters will remember these misguided initiatives in two years.

The Founding Fathers were always wary of those who wanted government to do lots of big things. That is why they created a system that separated powers among three more or less equal branches and provided each of them with powerful checks and balances.

When professional politicians become frustrated with Congress, it is a sign that our system is working as intended. Columbia University historian Alan Brinkley recently told Bloomberg News that “this is probably the most productive session of Congress since at least the ’60s.”

That’s true — if one ignores the fact that when Congress votes on bills that no one reads or understands, it can be quite productive. Americans have already rendered a verdict on such productivity and elected a new Congress with orders to clean up the mess in Washington, D.C.

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