The Good News: Congress Has Enacted Record-Low 52 Laws This Year. The Bad News? Congress Has Enacted 52 Laws This Year.


USA Today reports that

Congress is on track to beat its own low record of productivity, enacting fewer laws this year than at any point in the past 66 years.

It's a continuing slide of productivity that began in 2011, after Republicans recaptured the House majority in the 2010 elections, and the ability to find common ground has eluded the two parties while the legislative to-do list piles up.

The 112th Congress, covering 2011-12, emerged as the least productive two-year legislating period on record, while 2013 is on track to become the least productive single year in modern history.

The horror, the horror! Rarely does a news story unmask the problem with simplistic tallies of efficiency or productivity. Given the thousands of laws and hundreds of thousands of regulations on the books already, why exactly should we egging Congress on further? There's certainly been no shortage of landmark legislation that has passed this century, almost all of it awful from virtually any perspective. The PATRIOT Act, Sarbanes-Oxley, Medicare Part D, TARP, Obama's stimulus (as distinct from Bush's smaller yet equally awful 2008 legislation), Dodd-Frank, The Affordable Care Act—these are ginormous laws whose lasting effects seem to be bankrupting the country and eviscerating all remnants of limited government.

The USAT story quotes an analyst who doesn't see much hope for gridlock to dissipate anytime in the next few years. Which is, I guess, some small crumb for which to be thankful.