Worst. Congress. Ever.
July 29, 2011 10:15 AM   Subscribe

Worst. Congress. Ever. "With the debt ceiling impasse and legislative gridlock sucking all the air out of Washington, Foreign Policy asked the experts: Is this really the worst Congress ever?"
posted by homunculus (85 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm sure the Department of Information for the China-style post-socialist government that replaces this one after it crashes and burns will think highly of it.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:19 AM on July 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


I really love framings that imply, or even state outright, that failing to accede to a terrorist's demands makes you "part of the problem" because "the truth is somewhere in the middle".
posted by DU at 10:21 AM on July 29, 2011 [22 favorites]


I think that the GOP's internal conflicts are central to all this. It would be nice if they would hurry up and split in two.
posted by R. Mutt at 10:21 AM on July 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Would the worst Congress ever collective be the ones that allowed us to be this deeply in debt?
posted by Iriestx at 10:21 AM on July 29, 2011


I'm not a historian, but the "Bleeding Kansas" era Congress was pretty shitty.
posted by drezdn at 10:22 AM on July 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


I think I might still have to go with the one that impeached the President because of a blowjob that served almost entirely to wear down the Vice-President and allow the "election" of a psychotic manchild who completely destroyed economic development in this country for most likely the rest of my natural life.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:23 AM on July 29, 2011 [154 favorites]


If the job of Congress is to represent the will of the people, then this bunch of shrieking, idiotic, short-sighted, greedy, hateful, childish, ignorant, lazy buffoons may well be the best Congress ever.
posted by Legomancer at 10:24 AM on July 29, 2011 [75 favorites]


I actually doubt it's the worst; it's just the one we have right now and with the unprecedented amount of media insight we have into their decision making process (or lack thereof) we are forced to realize that these people whom we've elected to lead and take care of us, might be just as stupid and shortsighted as we ourselves are.

That being said; it's pretty fucking bad.
posted by quin at 10:25 AM on July 29, 2011


Any Congress in which that reptile Eric Cantor enjoys leading responsibilities is by definition a terrible Congress. For one.
posted by Philemon at 10:27 AM on July 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Congress of 1860, IMO, was the worst.
these guys are just playing chicken.
posted by clavdivs at 10:27 AM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those clowns in congress did it again. What a bunch of clowns.
posted by DJ 3000 at 10:27 AM on July 29, 2011 [54 favorites]


The Republicans split in two? Then the Democrats would win every fucking election because of the first-past-the-post voting system. So: no, never happen. Schizophrenia is never a pretty thing to watch, though.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:27 AM on July 29, 2011


I liked this interview with Richard Wolff on Democracy Now: "Debt Showdown is "Political Theater" Burdening Society’s Most Vulnerable"
posted by ts;dr at 10:28 AM on July 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm really surprised any experts said yes. Does historical perspective mean nothing to them?
posted by smackfu at 10:28 AM on July 29, 2011


The filibuster-happy 111th Congress wasn't so great either.

So, naturally, the people overwhelmingly voted the obstructionists into the 112th to make matters somehow worse.
posted by schmod at 10:28 AM on July 29, 2011


Those clowns in congress did it again. What a bunch of clowns.
posted by DJ 3000


Totally worth the $5.
posted by Gary at 10:29 AM on July 29, 2011 [10 favorites]


I had congress this one time with this woman and it was pretty awful. So it depends how many forms of congress you include.
posted by GuyZero at 10:37 AM on July 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


So it depends how many forms of congress you include.

there seems to be just one - and thanks to our looming government shutdown, if you want vaseline, you're going to have to buy it yourself
posted by pyramid termite at 10:39 AM on July 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


but, no, the pre-civil war congresses were much worse - how much worse can you get than a war at the end?

you could make a case that the reconstruction era congresses were worse, too

but since then? - no, we seem to be scraping the bottom of the barrel here
posted by pyramid termite at 10:42 AM on July 29, 2011


No, I think the Republican Party has just changed from being full of savvy criminals to being full of idiot true-believers. The latter probably being the more dangerous group...
posted by chasing at 10:43 AM on July 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yup, it's the worst one we can remember. What, there's history beyond last week? I can't recall that.

And isn't the problem for the GOP that they can blame Obama if the country continues to sink, so they can say the next GOP candidate will be better than Obama? Success is bad for the GOP.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:43 AM on July 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


In terms of legislation passed, this Congress is indeed among the worst -- even less productive than the infamous "do-nothing Congress" of 1948 or the bitterly partisan Congress of the Clinton-Gingrich impeachment era. Notably, in the former case Harry Truman was able to mount a successful re-election campaign by running against the failures of the Congress to get anything done. After this needless and embarrassing debt ceiling fiasco, is there an opening for Obama to attempt the same?
posted by Rhaomi at 10:45 AM on July 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


The US is like Wile E. Coyote after he runs off a cliff. The only reason we aren't in freefall is that we haven't yet realized that there's nothing under our feet.
posted by diogenes at 10:45 AM on July 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


(Though to be fair, maybe, just maybe, the Congress where half of them voted to secede from the country was probably pretty bad)
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:51 AM on July 29, 2011


Those clowns in congress did it again. What a bunch of clowns.
posted by DJ 3000


Hot dog, we have a weiner!
posted by box at 10:52 AM on July 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Bruce Bartlett: "I think at this point, there’s nothing that can pass the House of Representatives. … I think a good chunk of the Republican caucus is either stupid, crazy, ignorant or craven cowards, who are desperately afraid of the tea party people, and rightly so."
posted by homunculus at 10:53 AM on July 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


posted by DJ 3000

Totally worth the $5.


Yeah, I'm going to have to agree. I don't want to agree, but I don't see that I have a choice.

So.

Well done.
posted by aramaic at 10:54 AM on July 29, 2011


This will certainly be the "Worst Congress Ever," without question, if default leads to an otherwise unprovoked, major economic crisis. This could also lead to the end of the Republic, even if a regional breakup, say, is relatively peaceful. (Cornell PoliSci professor Ted Lowi suggested, way back in the mid-'90s, that the GOP's divisions might lead to this.) It's the worst anyway, just for doing what it's doing when the nation has just a smidgen more in resources and global power than it did in 1860.
posted by raysmj at 10:57 AM on July 29, 2011


WORST. CONGRESS. EVAR

Norman Ornstein, internet hipster... Did Denton buy-out FP?

Also, Don't forget the list (on five pages for the views... SEO bitches)

Parliamentary Funk!
posted by ennui.bz at 10:57 AM on July 29, 2011


>The only reason we aren't in freefall is that we haven't yet realized that there's nothing under our feet.
posted by diogenes at 1:45 PM on July 29

did you not say the same thing about Plato and his decor? (:)

on further reading, yeah, some of the pre-civil war congresses were just plain shoot-outs.
posted by clavdivs at 11:02 AM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Even House Speaker John Bohener (R-OH) admitted that “a lot” of his caucus members are willing to unleash economic “chaos” to get their way on the debt ceiling."

Isn't economic chaos the end goal of the true Libertarian?
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:03 AM on July 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I really love framings that imply, or even state outright, that failing to accede to a terrorist's demands makes you "part of the problem" because "the truth is somewhere in the middle".

The Centrist Cop-Out
posted by homunculus at 11:09 AM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Worst ever? I'm gonna say no.

But it is worth noting that previous "bad" Congresses were often riven by actual fundamental divisions on questions of principle. Here we have bitter deadlock on what is really a very narrow slice of ground in the middle of the political spectrum, when the US has successfully navigated back and forth over much larger stretches of ideological territory in the past.
posted by Urban Hermit at 11:10 AM on July 29, 2011


In terms of legislation passed, this Congress is indeed among the worst -- even less productive than the infamous "do-nothing Congress" of 1948 or the bitterly partisan Congress of the Clinton-Gingrich impeachment era.

The thing that made the Clinton-Gingrich era much worse than the current state of affairs is that they actually got shit done, and all that shit they did was extra shitty.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:12 AM on July 29, 2011


The intransigence of the rigid first term Congresspeople has caused this stalemate. Congress passed the acts that enabled the debts, it is up to Congress to man up and pay them. Then argue about future debts.
Social Security was originally an insurance program; those who have paid the premiums (not taxes!) over their working years, are entitled to the payoff.
posted by Cranberry at 11:23 AM on July 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I could almost respect their point if this was a fight over the budget. Fact is, they passed the budget and now they don't want to pay for it.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:25 AM on July 29, 2011 [11 favorites]


None of us is as dumb as all of us.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:37 AM on July 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Speaking of which, URGENT: Congress Pushing Broad New Internet Snooping Bill
posted by telstar at 11:49 AM on July 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Totally worth the $5.

Maybe if we all took our $5 and invested it instead in America and its institutions and ... ... ... ?

nah, doesn't scale.
posted by philip-random at 11:52 AM on July 29, 2011


Worst. Congress. Ever.

Are you very, very rich? Then, no, Best Congress Ever.
posted by facetious at 11:58 AM on July 29, 2011


BTW - what Obama needs to do is play hardball. Send out now letters to every contractor who is getting a federal paycheck and tell them that their payout is going to stop in August. That's hundreds of billions covering every freaking district.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:01 PM on July 29, 2011


Every congress is the worst congress ever to somebody.

Its just that this congress has the unique opportunity to be the worst congress ever to whole wide world.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:02 PM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are you very, very rich? Then, no, Best Congress Ever.

Nope. Most of the people who are rich stay that way by owning various large pieces of the economy that reliably produce income. A world in which the worth of the currency in which that economy is denominated, and in which the reliability of the economy itself is threatened by tax jihadists and idiot politicians with finely honed mastery of macroeconomic concepts displayed by the average four-year-old, is not one in which it is easy to continue owning and producing income.

Yeah, high-income people (at least those not smart enough to hire a tax lawyer and dodge the headline rate) may get to keep more of the pie. But that pie is rapidly collapsing, and appears to be filled with worms.
posted by Vetinari at 12:07 PM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


d'oh! , ← here's the missing comma, you figure out where to put it
posted by Vetinari at 12:09 PM on July 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


We've had some bad Congresses before, no doubt. The difference now is that we have a hundred-odd congresspeople who are completely fucking divorced from reality. This is not an impasse between two opposing philosophies - it's a holy war. In that the attitude is essentially "we don't fucking care what's good for the country, we only support absolutely pure government-hatred" then yes, this Congress is in the running for worst ever.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:15 PM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Curiously, what's happening in the USA has parallels in many countries around the world, it's unique in the US only in specifics and volume. Polarized governments that can't act, sovereign debt overload, extreme right wing ideologies going mainstream. There's a much bigger story going on, not sure what it is.
posted by stbalbach at 12:26 PM on July 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Those clowns in congress did it again. What a bunch of clowns.

How does it keep up with the news like that?
posted by Jim Slade at 12:27 PM on July 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Speaking of which, URGENT: Congress Pushing Broad New Internet Snooping Bill

Oh yes, that's much more important than STAVING OFF ECONOMIC DISASTER.
posted by JHarris at 12:30 PM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


> There's a much bigger story going on, not sure what it is.

Shit's fucked up, man.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:34 PM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Most of the people who are rich stay that way by owning various large pieces of the economy that reliably produce income. A world in which the worth of the currency in which that economy is denominated, and in which the reliability of the economy itself is threatened by tax jihadists and idiot politicians with finely honed mastery of macroeconomic concepts displayed by the average four-year-old, is not one in which it is easy to continue owning and producing income.

something, something...reap the whirlwind....
posted by Chrischris at 12:40 PM on July 29, 2011


The Congress we deserve?
posted by chavenet at 12:53 PM on July 29, 2011


Obama approval at 40%

President Bachman will sort this out.
posted by humanfont at 1:24 PM on July 29, 2011


Would the worst Congress ever collective be the ones that allowed us to be this deeply in debt?

Hate to be a pedant, but isn't that pretty much all of them?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:46 PM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


For me, this was perhaps the key data points in the article:

If you doubt that politics in Congress has become more partisan, consider this: For the first time ever, in the 111th Congress that convened during the first two years of the Obama presidency, the National Journal's vote ratings showed that the most conservative Democratic senator was to the left of the most liberal Republican. There is now no overlap ideologically at all between the parties. Only nine of the remaining small number of conservative House Democrats (now called "Blue Dogs") were to the right of the most liberal House Republican.
posted by donovan at 2:04 PM on July 29, 2011


humanfont: President Bachman will sort this out.

Don't even joke about it...
posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:04 PM on July 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


humanfont: President Bachman will sort this out.

Don't even joke about it...


And also approval is maybe not that useful of a metric here. After all, plenty of people are pissed at Obama from the left, too.
posted by nat at 2:18 PM on July 29, 2011


I actually doubt it's the worst; it's just the one we have right now and with the unprecedented amount of media insight we have into their decision making process (or lack thereof) we are forced to realize that these people whom we've elected to lead and take care of us, might be just as stupid and shortsighted as we ourselves are.

Or, as Otto von Bismarck is alleged to have said: "The less people know about laws and sausages are made, the better they sleep at night."
posted by Skeptic at 2:32 PM on July 29, 2011


Also, to quote George Bernard Shaw: "Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve."

This was less politely expressed by H.L. Mencken as: "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."
posted by Skeptic at 2:44 PM on July 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


humanfont: President Bachman will sort this out.

Don't even joke about it...


It's not a joke, it's a threat.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:50 PM on July 29, 2011


The Fruits Of Christianism
posted by homunculus at 2:57 PM on July 29, 2011


Speaking of which, URGENT: Congress Pushing Broad New Internet Snooping Bill
Oh yes, that's much more important than STAVING OFF ECONOMIC DISASTER.


Mission accomplished, i guess.
posted by palbo at 2:59 PM on July 29, 2011


Bachman is a lock. I'm not joking or threatening. I'm just accepting the reality. You'd better make your preparations now.
posted by humanfont at 4:23 PM on July 29, 2011


What can you expect when you have this kind of childishness (link to tweet from Eric Cantor) from the majority leader
posted by TwoWordReview at 4:25 PM on July 29, 2011


Hate to be a pedant, but isn't that pretty much all of them?

Weren't they able to balance the budget in Clinton's first term? In large part due to taxes on the wealthy that Clinton pushed through despite a lack of Republican support?
posted by inigo2 at 4:48 PM on July 29, 2011


Bachman is a lock. I'm not joking or threatening. I'm just accepting the reality. You'd better make your preparations now.

I love ya, humanfront, but we have almost no reason to believe Bachman is a lock for the nomination. This is just hyperbole at this point. If she does grab it, then I hope the rest of the nation wakes up to the stark choice that faces them, but as things stand now, this is just ridiculous.

I concede she has something like a 25% chance of securing the GOP nomination but I suspect the debt ceiling debacle will finally foment the civil war within the GOP between the Wall Street wing and the Tea Party wing.
posted by joe lisboa at 4:57 PM on July 29, 2011


the debt ceiling debacle will finally foment the civil war within the GOP between the Wall Street wing and the Tea Party wing

Well, it looks like the Wall Street wing is ready to throw down:

"The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue, and the public will turn en masse against . . . Barack Obama. The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the tea-party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor.

This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell into GOP Senate nominees."


Is Jon Stewart ghost-writing bits for the WSJ now?
posted by fuse theorem at 5:08 PM on July 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


fuse theorem: " Is Jon Stewart ghost-writing bits for the WSJ now?"

I'm thinking it's more likely Stephen Colbert.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:07 PM on July 29, 2011


If you think Bachmann is a lock, there are lots of people ready to pay you $33 for every $1 you put down on it. Hop to.
posted by 0xFCAF at 6:53 PM on July 29, 2011


has Glenn Beck drawn a Weinmar Republic parallel yet? Just asking 'cause he's just read this book about the Nazis gaining power and the.....
posted by the noob at 7:12 PM on July 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Apple holding more cash than USA

iUS - Toothless Tiger
posted by the noob at 7:18 PM on July 29, 2011


Veterinari: ... Most of the people who are rich stay that way by owning various large pieces of the economy that reliably produce income. A world in which the worth of the currency in which that economy is denominated, and in which the reliability of the economy itself is threatened by tax jihadists and idiot politicians with finely honed mastery of macroeconomic concepts displayed by the average four-year-old, is not one in which it is easy to continue owning and producing income.

That's kind an out-dated notion of today's American plutocracy, or how they're staying that way.When wealth is the only goal, and the regulatory restraints are eased, we've seen to what lengths that companies will go:

- in the guise of globalization they've enabled the shipment of countless US jobs offshore, with little regard for the ethics or ideology of the supplying country, or the impact at home

- they have come close to the ideal of earning money while producing nothing: the financial services sector, and all the monetary abstractions they've thunk up to keep information asymmetry working in their favour. Actually make and sell something? pfft!

- they have no scruples about cannibalism: they happily packaged bad debt, complicit agencies rated it triple-A, and they sold it to each other, without concern for the fallout.

Frankly, I don't think the US upper crust care one whit beyond their immediate families (and one or two generations at that). They have the freedom and potential of the global market, plus the political clout to have their transgressions forgiven and subsidized, they have the control and connections to keep their path unregulated, and when the US implodes they will either create pockets within the US that they can control, or simply move.

Naive, I know. That's why I'm not rich (though I'd prefer to think it was ethics)
posted by Artful Codger at 7:48 PM on July 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


33:1? Where do you see that?
posted by humanfont at 7:59 PM on July 29, 2011


I think "worst congress evar" is a bit optimistic. Surely it's "worst congress so far"?
posted by pompomtom at 8:00 PM on July 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


Do you really think we'll get another Congress? What are we going to pay them with?
posted by Vetinari at 8:05 PM on July 29, 2011


I wonder how much the citizens united ruling is going to benefit the Democrats, now that the teahadists are fucking shit up on principle.
posted by stavrogin at 8:34 PM on July 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder how much the citizens united ruling is going to benefit the Democrats, now that the teahadists are fucking shit up on principle.

It doesn't matter who wins, we lose either way.
posted by dibblda at 11:13 PM on July 29, 2011


I am curious about how Colbert will spend his SuperPAC monies. Too bad he won't actually run, cus I would hit that (button in the ballot box, that is).
posted by wowbobwow at 11:22 PM on July 29, 2011


Artful Codger: "- in the guise of globalization they've enabled the shipment of countless US jobs offshore, with little regard for the ethics or ideology of the supplying country, or the impact at home

- they have come close to the ideal of earning money while producing nothing: the financial services sector, and all the monetary abstractions they've thunk up to keep information asymmetry working in their favour. Actually make and sell something? pfft!

- they have no scruples about cannibalism: they happily packaged bad debt, complicit agencies rated it triple-A, and they sold it to each other, without concern for the fallout.
"

"Let Facts be submitted to a candid world..."
posted by Rhaomi at 12:22 AM on July 30, 2011


33:1? Where do you see that?
Intrade quotes a 3% chance currently. If you place a bet (buy a future) that it will come true, and it does, your bet will have grown 33 times to 100%.
posted by bystander at 5:14 AM on July 30, 2011


If you place a bet (buy a future) that it will come true, and it does, your bet will have grown 33 times to 100%.

Presuming you believe a greenback to be worth the same before and after.
posted by pompomtom at 7:01 AM on July 30, 2011


The Empty Chamber: Just how broken is the Senate?
posted by homunculus at 8:41 PM on July 31, 2011


This Is America’s Most-Hated Congress of All Time
posted by homunculus at 11:48 PM on August 4, 2011


To think the freshman Tea Party candidates were elected because they hated the last guys so much!
posted by JHarris at 1:43 AM on August 5, 2011


The Tea Party was elected because the Republcan supreme court threw out a 100 years of campaign finance laws and let super rich guys like the Koch Brothers buy the election. There was discontent, but what should have been a loss of a few house seats was turned into a runaway by microtargeting a select base with unlimited money.

Just like in this last fight where there were non-stop commercials attacking Obama on the major networks.

With this latest million dollar mystery donation to Romney we are really seeing how f-up things are. No one knows who wrote the check, it could even be a foreign government.
posted by humanfont at 5:19 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking of the Koch brothers -- Americans for Prosperity is sending absentee ballots to Democrats in at least two Wisconsin state Senate recall districts with instructions to return the paperwork after the election date.
posted by inigo2 at 7:10 AM on August 5, 2011


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