NOT DOING THE JOB – AT 9:48 A.M. ET: This is something we should think more about...the sheer level of nonproductivity in Washington, especially in Congress. From the Washington Examiner:
For those who need proof that the Senate was a do-nothing chamber in 2011 beyond the constant partisan bickering and failure to pass a federal budget, there is now hard evidence that it was among the laziest in 20 years.
In her latest report, Secretary of the Senate Nancy Erickson revealed a slew of data that put the first session of the 112th Senate at the bottom of Senates since 1992 in legislative productivity, an especially damning finding considering that it wasn’t an election year when congressional action is usually lower.
For example, while the Democratically-controlled Senate was in session for 170 days, it spent an average of just 6.5 hours in session on those days, the second lowest since 1992. Only 2008 logged a lower average of 5.4 hours a day, and that’s when action was put off because several senators were running for president, among them Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain.
On the passage of public laws, arguably its most important job, the Senate notched just 90, the second lowest in 20 years, and it passed a total of 402 measures, also the second lowest. And as the president has been complaining about, the chamber confirmed a 20-year low of 19,815 judicial and other nominations.
The Secretary of the Senate’s office didn’t comment on the statistics, but it did provide a comparison to action in 2009, the first term of the 111th Senate, when many of President Obama’s initiatives were considered by the Democratically-controlled House and Senate. By comparison the number of Senate bills offered last year was down 30 percent, the number of amendments offered sank 55 percent, and the number of roll call votes dropped 40 percent.
COMMENT: What do we pay these chaps for? Congress already ranks low in public esteem. You'd think the members would want to do something about it.
One problem is that we have too many members holding safe seats. Some members of the Senate, and the House, essentially have jobs for life because of the way congressional districts are drawn, or because of the political tilt of their states. I normally have opposed term limits, believing elections are the best term limiting devices of all. But the work of Congress has become so sluggish, and unimaginative, that perhaps some kind of term limits might be useful.
Also, why not tie the work of Congress to financial incentives? Salaries, and staff size, could be linked to a productivity formula, just as Social Security increases are linked to the cost of living. I'd like to hear from readers on this.
April 16, 2012