The term "do-nothing Congress" has become the accepted norm over the past two years, according to a new survey that would put lawmakers to shame if some weren’t actually admitting a degree of pride in that fact during this election year.
A new Gallup poll finds that 78 percent of likely American voters believe Congress has been a total failure the past two years while only 16 percent approve of what it's done, which is one of the worst ratings the polling organization has documented since 1974.
Ironically, the findings have both Democrats and Republicans agreeing that the current Congress “will go down in history as one of the least active,” according to Bloomberg News.
Some Democrats, like Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, see it as “an accomplishment” that his party was able to block what he told Bloomberg were efforts by Republicans “to really move in the wrong direction.”
But Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat who plans to retire at the end of this year, told Bloomberg, “We’ve become the kick-the-can-down-the-road Congress,” with members on both sides of the aisle being locked in “disagreement about whether you do anything until you get right down to the wire and then something has to be done.”
Rep. Phil Gingrey agreed, adding that things probably won’t change until at least after the election. “I don’t think we are in any 'let’s-bury-the-hatchet' mood today,” the Georgia Republican told Bloomberg. “The American people are not giving us a very high approval rating because they are tired of us not being able to get anything done.”
That pretty much sums up the attitude of voters this election season — that politics is once again ruling the day on Capitol Hill.
At the moment, according to the Gallup survey of 1,014 adults July 9-12, both parties get pretty close to equal blame. In the July survey, Democratic members of Congress did have a slight 18 percent to 14 percent edge in job approval over their Republican colleagues. But that margin switches back and forth with each new poll, and the numbers are quite often nearly similar.
Overall, the views of Gallup survey participants apparently are still being been driven for the most part by the fact that Congress has done little to produce new legislation that creates jobs and helps get the economy growing again.
In fact, according to Bloomberg News, most of the 54 bills sent to President Barack Obama this year did little more than extend programs already created, name post offices, and convey land parcels. Last year was slow as well. Only 90 bills made it to Obama.
“Neither party has much of an incentive politically to work with the other,” Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University history and public affairs professor, told Bloomberg. “Nobody will want to do something that will cost their seats in November.”
Congress, he added, is “incapable of taking the big steps early” because it is “more polarized than it has been in decades.” For some voters, however, no news from Capitol Hill may be good news.
For example, a Rasmussen Reports national telephone poll July 7-8 of 1,000 likely voters found that 66 percent “believe that there is too much government power and too little individual freedom.” Only 8 percent of respondents said they believe “the opposite to be true.”
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