Liberals are angry President Barack Obama won a second term, and yet, they didn’t get the liberal agenda items they wanted passed in 2013, including gun control and amnesty for illegal aliens. The complaint at the end of the year is that this was the “least productive Congress” in 66 years, with production always being measured by the amount of legislation passed.
But the media complaint here isn’t about just any legislation; it’s about a liberal wish list. Washington Post reporter Paul Kane laments the “shrunken ambitions” of congressional Democrats in a front-page story: “Back in 2009, during the heady days of hope and change, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced 90 pieces of legislation. In 2013, amid gridlock and dysfunction, he sponsored just 35 bills. None of them became law.”
Kane laments Congress as “an institution whose historically low approval rating has been at or below 20 percent for three years.” So the problem on Capitol Hill began in 2011 — the minute Republicans took over the House majority.
The Post reporter does not explain that journalists just started seizing on an overall approval rating for Congress — an electorally irrelevant number compared to each representative’s popularity in the home state or district — as a way of bolstering Obama by comparison. They didn’t seize on any measure of the popularity of Congress during former President George W. Bush’s second term because they wanted him to look like a complete loser.
This “least productive Congress” rap suggests that the passage of any legislation is the equivalent of progress. Get a load of how Kane offers a brief balance to his own thesis: “For instance, amid all the outcry over congressional dysfunction in 2010, 2011 and 2012, Congress still managed to pass a bounty of landmark laws, including the Affordable Care Act and two tax-and-budget bills that brought a combined $2.8 trillion in deficit savings.”
The deficit in fiscal 2013 was $680 billion, the lowest of the Obama years. This is what happens when Congress is hounded as “least productive.” And yet there is no fiscal achievement here, either. As Terry Jeffrey at CNSNews.com has explained, even adjusted for inflation, this deficit is exceeded by only one pre-Obama deficit — the one the U.S. government ran in 1943, during the height of World War II.
The deficit came down in part because House Republicans forced sequestration on Team Obama — an idea the White House first proposed, even if it meant it only as an empty threat. The sequester clipped the deficit in spite of TV and print reporters screeching about the tsunami of suffering that would result. This turned out to be an assembly line of phony baloney, right down to the silly unnecessary shutdown of White House tours by the Obamas. Whatever money they’ve “saved,” they blew it somewhere else — like on endless Christmas vacations.
Back on Dec. 5, 2013, CBS congressional reporter Nancy Cordes scolded a “do-nothing Congress” — those were the words on screen. Cordes warned of the price of inaction: “American families could see milk prices spike to $7 a gallon if Congress can’t pass a farm bill by the end of the year. Lawmakers are also running out of time to set funding and policy for the Pentagon next year, and they still need to confirm Janet Yellen as the next Federal Reserve chair before Ben Bernanke’s term ends next month.”
Since then, Yellen has been confirmed, the Pentagon funded, and milk is still $3.50 a gallon. This is what the “news” business does today — it cajoles and threatens about the need for a more “productive” liberal future instead of reporting on what has already happened. And it does succeed in intimidating squeamish Republicans.
These TV reporters are hardly the ones to drag out the “least productive” scolding. If we measured their productivity by the number of congressional hearings and investigative stories delving into our corrupt government — IRS harassment, Benghazi cover-up, “Fast and Furious” cover-up and on and on — we could rightly conclude they are the “least productive” journalists in history.