A Letter to the 113th Congress

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Dear 113th Congress,

We, the people of the United States of America, have a request: please be better than your predecessors. The 112th Congress was the worst in modern history so we do not think we are asking too much. Just as a reminder, let’s go over some of the 112th Congress’ “highlights.”

The 112th Congress was an exercise in brinksmanship. The debt-ceiling debacle in the summer of 2011 was botched so poorly that United States debt is now equal to the Isle of Man’s debt [1]. Not only did they manage to downgrade the debt, but they also went over the “fiscal cliff” (even if only for a few hours). The fiscal cliff was not even a real deadline; the 112th Congress created the self-imposed deadline after being unable to come to a debt reduction agreement earlier in the year. The solution the 112th came up for the fiscal cliff even pushed the responsibility for spending cuts onto the new Congress. In other words, the 112th Congress is the guy on the airplane that attempts to solve the Sudoku, but ends up leaving half the boxes with a scribbled in mess for the next passenger. No one likes that guy.

As far as being more popular than your predecessors, you all do not have a tough road ahead. The 112th Congress ‘ lowest popularity is detailed in this chart [2]. That 9% of the American people statistic might even be an inflated number. After all, Congressmen and their relatives get to vote in polls too (Currently, Congress approval is at 18%) [3]. So 113th Congress, if you can manage to beat out two Latin American totalitarian rulers in a Gallup poll, you will be perceived as an improvement over the last Congress.

Being part of the legislative branch requires a Congress to legislate. Seems simple enough, but the last Congress apparently missed that concept. Since World War II every single session of Congress has passed over 300 laws. The majority of the sessions of Congress have passed over 600 laws. The 112th Congress passed 220 laws [4]. Not only did the previous Congress fail to legislate, they failed to legislate on a colossal scale. Had some of the 220 laws they passed been landmark pieces of legislation, the number might not be as startling; however, the 112th lacked any signature laws. It seemed to crave political stymies and be allergic to compromise.

With a Republican led house, a Democratic led Senate, and the same leaders in place, more battles are inevitable. A change to your mindset has to occur. Legislate with the country in mind, not your political future. Welcome cooperation between parties, and do not treat compromise like a leper. Please remember that you are working for us, not special interests.

We elected you all to lead us, and to solve problems that affect our country. We don’t expect you to be the most prolific Congress in recent history; we just want you to be better than the last Congress. Lucky for you, that shouldn’t be too difficult.

Sincerely,

The American People

 

[1] http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/macro/jon-stewart-daily-show-tackles-us-debt-downgrade

[2]http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/files/2012/07/congresspopularitybennett.jpeg

[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/19/us/politics/entering-2nd-term-obama-has-51-percent-approval-rating.html

[4] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/01/04/goodbye-and-good-riddance-112th-congress/

Image Credit: http://www.visitingdc.com/capitol/capitol-building-picture.htm

About author

Brooks Cain

Brooks Cain is a senior from Norman, Oklahoma double majoring in Economics and Human and Organizational Development (with a focus on Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness). He is a part of Vandy Fanatics on campus, where he can put his Vanderbilt fandom to work for the student body. In the future, he hopes to dedicate his life to finding innovative solutions for problems on a national and global scale. When not following politics, you can usually find Brooks at the nearest golf course.

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