This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that zero new jobs were added to the U.S. labor market in August. And once again, the national crisis that is the lack of leadership in our government comes back into focus.
Should we be surprised that the situation becomes grimmer right after John Boehner decides to postpone the President’s requested date to speak to a joint session of Congress? For no apparent reason, other than to reiterate his popular refrain of “Hell no you can’t,” the Republican Majority Leader has once again chosen to place party over country and deprive the government for which he serves the proper decorum and respect. Worst of all, Boehner’s politicking nearly created a secondary dilemma: would the new date and time of the speech conflict with the NFL season opener between the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers? Thankfully, the answer was no.
The 112th Congress is shaping up to be the most unproductive, fruitless congress of our time. Starting with Eric Cantor’s insistence that the House calendar be set up so that for every two weeks of work there should be one week of recess, the “Do-Nothing Congress’s” lack of progress began from its inception. The justification of this was that members of congress needed to spend more time in their districts speaking to their constituents – a justification that Republicans have backed away from as they face constituent backlash for their support of unpopular proposals such as cutting Medicare and Social Security.
Unsurprisingly, by July of this year, the GOP led House had only passed one-third the amount of legislation than the previous Democrat controlled 111th Congress had in the same time period. A Chicago Tribune article noted at the time:
By most of those metrics, this crowd is underperforming even the “do-nothing Congress” of 1948, as Harry Truman dubbed it. The hot-temper era of Clinton impeachment in the 1990s saw more bills become law.
Around this time, it was unmistakable that the Republican Majority in the House was set more on obstructionism than on passing legislation. In the Senate too, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed that sentiment by announcing:
“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
Congressional Republicans rallied around this call for inaction, and in a shameful provocation that has created a precedent for new heights of political confrontation, partook in holding the debt-ceiling and our economy hostage.
Nobody wins when government fails to act. The pessimism and doubt that exists in the minds of Congressional Republicans is harrowing. Rather than redefine President Obama’s message of “Hope” according to their own terms, they chose to demonize the term and push their own message of despair, defeat, and impossibility.