House Legislators Diligently Fail to Legislate
House Speaker John Boehner disputes claims that the 113th Congress, which he nominally oversees, has thus far been the most unproductive in recorded history. “That’s just total nonsense,” Boehner said.
President Barack Obama is in no danger of developing tendonitis from an overworked left wrist; he’s not signing a lot of laws. Yet Boehner almost has a point. The 113th Congress may be hapless at producing -- what’s that word again? leg-is-la-tion? -- but, in fairness, that’s not the goal.
Last week, the House spit out a farm bill that, instead of offering a mundane conglomeration of pork and ag policy and food stamps, opted to make history by providing cash subsidies to wealthy farmers while eliminating food subsidies to poor families. The bill wasn’t so much “post-policy” -- the modifier liberal bloggers have been using for the GOP -- as something entirely new. The majority subverted free-market principles in favor of naked class interest, heaping government subsidies on wealthy (largely white) farmers while withdrawing them from the poor (and multi-hued). Call it “post-conservative.”
Like almost everything the House passes, the bill will not become law. But if your goal is to halt the forward movement of history, passing legislation may not be your thing. “We need to stay focused on those things that are most important to the American people,” Boehner said. And the American people “think we have too many laws. What they want us to do is repeal more of those.”
Ah, repeal. There is one law in particular that the House positively excels at repealing. Or trying to. Indeed, by some counts, yesterday marked the 39th repeal vote on Obamacare.
“Now listen,” Boehner said. “We made clear when we took over that we weren’t going to be doing commemorative legislation on the floor.” No way. This hard-charging bunch doesn’t have time for gauzy commemorations. With another repeal vote just around the corner, who can afford to be living in the past?
(Frank Wilkinson is a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board. Follow him on Twitter.)