The first six months of Obama’s second term have been marred by scandals.
Of course, a few events regarded as scandals turned out not to be scandals at all. The Benghazi Talking Points-scandal was the product of a forgery. The IRS-scandal proved to be equally bogus. (Sadly, while the flaming, apparent controversies caught everyone’s attention, the truths revealed later have gone under-reported, and so, only some us are aware.) Still, a few others, like the DOJ/AP- and NSA-scandals, were quite real and continue to be deeply troubling.
But those two scandals pale in comparison, I think, to the second-biggest political scandal in Washington D.C. and the entire country: the ineffectual and lazy 113th Congress.
In the six months and one week since this Congress started meeting, it has passed a grand total of 15 bills. That’s significantly less than the record low pace of the 112th Congress. (The 112th, by the way, ended up being the least productive in recorded history.)
That number, 15, is indefensible and absolutely pathetic.
But once you take a peek at that tiny list of what has passed, the story only gets worse. A watering-down of the STOCK ACT. (Thanks, Harry.) A bill amending verbiage in an existing law that specifies the size of the precious-metal blanks used in the production of the National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coins. [Slamming head against desk.] Something called the Freedom To Fish Act. (WHAT!?! OBAMA’S CZARIST, ICHTHYARCHIC HENCHMEN ARE HELL-BENT ON PREVENTING US FROM FISHING?!? IS THIS STILL AMERICA?!?! Actually, the bill only pertains to fishing in two spots along a river in Kentucky. America endures–for now.) I’m sure most of us remember when members of Congress hastily passed the Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013, because God forbid the pointless sequester burden their lives–or the lives of the media-people who cover them. (Meanwhile, the sequester’s impact on the poor and elderly remains wholly intact.) These laws don’t exactly address the big issues of the day.
And they haven’t passed any laws yet that at all deal with (let alone, fix) the big issues of the day. (Go ahead and look at that list again.)
And this country faces a laundry list of HUGE issues pertaining to chronically high unemployment, long-term indebtedness, gay rights, climate change, an epidemic of gun violence, immigration, and etc. Just last week, facing a deadline to prevent interest rates on student loans from doubling, Congress decided to go home and watch fireworks–and yet, that’s definitely not the most ridiculous thing many members of Congress have done this year (with more ridiculousness in store!). Reasonable people can disagree on how best to address these issues. But it’s completely unreasonable if nothing is accomplished to address any of these things. And yet, Congress’s completely unreasonable lack of productivity is not the country’s biggest political scandal.
No, the country’s biggest political scandal so far this year is our apathy. We provide members of Congress good salary and benefits, get next to nothing in return, and no-one cares. While there’s at least some evidence that the public is paying attention–its recent approval rating of Congress is at ten percent or worse–there’s been nothing like the responsive outcry and organized protest we saw from Tea Party in 2009 and ’10 or the Occupiers in 2011. There’s hardly any coverage of their lack of productivity in news media, as well. We should demand that members of Congress be engaged and working, that it be a top story on Evening News broadcasts when they’re not–but no, it’s all just sort of expected that they’re not, now.
And it’s all just very sad.