Historic Do-Nothing Congress Still Found Time to Propose $1 Trillion in Spending


The Wash Times reports that never had so many done so little as last year's Congress:

It's official: Congress ended its least-productive year in modern history after passing 80 bills — fewer than during any other session since year-end records began being kept in 1947.

Furthermore, an analysis by The Washington Times of the scope of such activities as time spent in debate, number of conference reports produced and votes taken on the House and Senate floors found that Congress set a record for legislative futility by accomplishing less in 2011 than any other year in history.

More here.

To which some of us might say, Thank God.

Yet there's little doubt that the inability of the government not just to pass but to fully propose a budget is a real cause of problems. Or that the chief Jughead Jones to blame is Sen. Kent Conrad, the baldly incompetent fella in charge of writing the Senate's budget proposal who has managed to go a few years without executing such a task. Who knew when he announced his retirement that it would start so long before he left office?.

Such regime uncertainty - we'd be talking Greek-level incompetence on this score, except that Greece actually produced a budget - freezes everything and everyone and excacerbates all the negative trends in the economy. So thanks, Congress, for failing to provide a modicum of stability in a rough-and-tumble world.

Even worse, gridlock ain't what it used to be. Indeed, after George Bush's disastrous policies helped elect a hostile Congress in 2006, we didn't get gridlock, alas, especially in 2008. And now, chew on this:

As the Times' report notes, because entitlements consume so much of the federal budget, a lot of spending is on auto-pilot.

And more to the point, just because such brave leaders as Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, and John Boehner can't finish up doesn't mean they're not trying to bust the bank.

Over at Investors Business Daily, John Merline reports that last year lawmakers

introduced 874 bills in the House and Senate that would have boosted annual federal spending by more than $1 trillion if they'd all been signed into law, according to an analysis done for IBD by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.

In contrast, lawmakers offered up just 215 bills to cut spending last year that would have reduced federal outlays by about half a trillion had they all been signed into law.

The analysis also found that for every dollar in cuts, lawmakers in the House proposed nearly $3 in spending hikes, and in the Senate $1.40 in hikes….

More here.

Not long ago, Tim Cavanaugh asked how can spending 30 percent more be austerity?