Five full weeks of summer vacation have just begun for members of Congress. That’s after nine full weeks off so far this year—and the House gets six more away before the election. All that time off, a sweet health-care plan, and quasi-fame as well. Is this a good gig or what?
But most folks only take time off when they get their job done—and that definitely isn’t the case for the 112th Congress.
While Midwest farmers suffer through the worst drought in decades, the House left a bipartisan farm bill passed by the Senate sitting on the table. Certainly, there’s room for improvement in that traditionally pork-filled appropriation bill. But make the improvements and pass the damn bill—the all-or-nothing tug-of-war between the perfect and the good doesn’t help people who need it now.
Even more resonant to anyone who uses the post office (which is just about everyone) is the fact that our once-proud USPS is about to default on a $5.5-billion payment. This has been a slow-motion implosion, and the Senate got its act together to pass a bipartisan bill months ago that would help avoid default. But the House had different priorities. Instead, the chamber found time to rename 60 post-office branches and attempted to repeal the health-care law for the 33rd time.
It’s hard to tell whether this is just lazy or malevolent, but small-government advocates of gridlock are going to have a hard time explaining to people on Main Street how maintaining the post office isn’t an essential role of government. Reform is the opposite of inaction. If these bipartisan bills that passed the Senate are in need of fixing, then fix ’em—or take responsibility for the looming failure.