A Times Editorial

Fiddling while Rome burns

When President Barack Obama borrows Harry Truman's famous line characterizing a "do-nothing Congress," he isn't engaging in purely political rhetoric. History is on his side. As the 112th Congress recesses this week, not to return until after the November elections, it has the dubious distinction of being the second least productive Congress since Washington began keeping such statistics in 1947. Good riddance to the petty, bickering, partisan divide that masquerades as governance.

As members of the House and Senate return home to campaign, voters should ask how their elected representatives spent their time serving in a Congress that passed a mere 90 bills — only two more than the record holder, the 104th Congress of the mid 1990s, when only 88 measures made it into law. Congress goes on vacation leaving behind the specter of a looming budgetary fiscal cliff of impending tax increases and automatic spending cuts.

Also left for another day are critical measures such as a Veterans Job Corps proposal, a farm bill to aid drought-stricken agricultural states, relief to a beleaguered Postal Service and an extension of the Violence Against Women Act.

While the needs of the nation languish, at a salary of $174,000 a year, members of a do-nothing Congress couldn't find the time to do the work of the American people.

Fiddling while Rome burns 09/18/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 6:17pm]

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