Monday, October 18, 2010

111th Congress the most productive, according to the AP

The Associated Press says that this Congress has been the most productive in history, except possibly for the 89th Congress, which passed civil rights, Medicare and Medicaid.

But what is the measure of productivity? Merely the amount of legislation, or it's positive impact on the lives of Americans? In my opinion, this has been the most destructive Congress in recent history.

Here's the list from the AP:
Congress passed an $814 billion economic stimulus package soon after President Barack Obama took office, tapping a staggering sum of money to avoid a full-blown depression.
But we don't know for sure that if the bill had not passed, whether the economy would have gotten worse. If Congress had done nothing, they economy may have turned itself around, and saved the taxpayer billions in debt. The stimulus was supposed to keep unemployment down under 8 percent, but has been a total failure in that regard. And a lot of the money seems to have gone into porkulus projects.
The two other landmark acts of this session were the health care overhaul, a giant step toward universal coverage that had eluded presidents back to Franklin Roosevelt if not Teddy Roosevelt, and the Wall Street accountability act.
The health care bill, which was supposed to cut costs for consumers, has had the opposite affect, and most of it's provisions aren't even in effect yet. And the 1099 provision will bury companies in paperwork. This "giant step toward universal coverage," as the AP puts it, will probably make it harder to get insurance; this is already happening.

I don't think anyone understands the Wall Street accountability act, including those in Congress who voted for it. I've read many articles that have stated that this bill will not prevent another meltdown.

Other bills that have passed:

-- Making college loans more affordable. My take: How? I have a student loan from grad school, and I don't know how it could have been less expensive. Mark my words. Now that the feds own the program, they f**k it up.

-- The Cash for Clunkers program that helped rejuvenate the auto industry. My take: There are many reasons this program was idiotic. For one thing, it only helped the auto industry for a month or by creating false demand. Once the program was over, auto sales tanked. And the government was so slow in paying dealers, many dropped out or were in great financial jeopardy. My local dealer at the time said they would not participate until they were sure how they'd get paid. I guess they didn't trust the feds to be quick about it. And they were right. Temporary programs such as these are never long-term solutions.

-- New consumer protections for credit card users. My take: I feel safer already. Not! The first thing my credit card company did was raise my rates from 5.99 percent to 8.25 percent. While I get some extra info on my statement now, I have yet to see any actual benefits from this bill. People who use credit stupidly should reap what they sow.

-- Making attacks based on sexual orientation a federal hate crime. My take: An attack by one person on another could always be called a hate crime. And murder is murder. This is almost like an attempt at thought control.

-- Giving businesses tax incentives to hire unemployed workers. My take: Well, this really worked, didn't it? I haven't read about or talked to one small biz owner who hired based on this.

-- Tax credits for first-time homeowners. My take: Again, a temporary stop-gap measure. Sure, it helped some people buy homes who wouldn't have, but you can see that the housing market is still a mess.

There are more, but we'll leave it at that. Anytime the government attempts to muck around in the marketplace, unintended consequences will ensue.

The AP article goes on the ask, "Where's the love?" The conclusion: "But it's not what Congress didn't accomplish the past two years, it's what it did do that seems to have voters most riled."

Most Americans don't like big-government control of their lives. I hope both parties get that message on Nov. 2.

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