While Congress grinds its wheels…

 

In case you needed a reminder of why Congress gets such low approval ratings (13% according to a recent Gallup poll), the past week’s news provided a dastardly dyad of demonstrations.

First to the Syndicate of Useless Senators, whose Republican minority blocked a bill to create a $1 billion jobs program for veterans, 11% of whom are unemployed. It was yet another demonstration of the insanity of requiring 60 votes, rather than a simple majority as the Founders intended, to pass a bill in the Senate – in this case, a bill most reasonable people would have expected to have bipartisan support anyway, but never mind that.

Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled Repository of Accursed Representatives engaged in an egregious waste of time and a surfeit of small-minded political grandstanding by enacting something it meanly called “The Buffett Rule Act of 2012.” Absurdly mutating the concept of the “Buffett Rule,” which suggests that a working stiff like Warren Buffett’s secretary shouldn’t pay a higher tax rate than her billionaire boss, this bill would add an option to our income tax forms enabling us to contribute additional funds “to be used exclusively for the purpose of paying down the national debt.”

But you can already send money to the Treasury at any time. You can even mail a check specifically to the Bureau of the Public Debt, as Bloomberg explains. And more to the immediate point, the bill’s sponsors certainly knew that the Senate with its Democratic majority would never pass a bill conceived and named so spitefully.

The larger sadness is that with one chamber controlled by each party, few bills of substance stand much chance of passing no matter what they’re about. While talk of fiscal Armageddon is no doubt exaggerated, it’s probably a good idea to be buckling on our parachutes for the approaching cliff, all thanks to partisan gridlock.