Wednesday, September 17, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Do-nothing Congress better than the actively-do-harm Congress

By
From page A7 | August 07, 2014 |

When it comes to profound disappointment in the ability of Congress to do its job, I yield to no one. We’ve lost a critical governmental function in an advanced economy in a complex world: the ability to diagnose problems and prescribe solutions – in both the foreign and domestic spheres. At a time of particularly intense challenges, House Republicans spent part of last week preparing to sue President Barack Obama.

At the same time, before we advocate for a do-something Congress, it’s important to know what it’s planning on doing. After all, be careful what you wish for. Congress can easily do more harm than good – and has in the past. A better aspiration, especially as regards the economy, is a do-no-harm Congress.

Let me explain.

First, no question that the do-nothing label applies as per their legislative record. As Charles Blow noted in The New York Times on Sunday, quoting a Pew study:

“As of Wednesday the current Congress had enacted 142 laws, the fewest of any Congress in the past two decades over an equivalent time span. And only 108 of those enactments were substantive pieces of legislation, under our deliberately broad criteria (no post-office renamings, anniversary commemorations or other purely ceremonial laws).”

But while this record surely looks bad to some, it looks like success to others, particularly that section of the electorate that sent members to Congress to block legislation, to shut things down, to hobble the process. True, they’re a minority, but in our non-parliamentary system, such a minority has considerable clout.

So, I ask myself, is this team capable of smart immigration or corporate tax reform? That there’s a rhetorical question.

But what do I mean by a “do-no-harm Congress?” I’ll use economic growth data to illustrate.

Fiscal policy – taxing and spending decisions – subtracted around 1.5 percentage points off of the growth in gross domestic product in 2013. That’s equivalent to more than 1 million jobs. This year, fiscal policy has been relatively neutral in terms of its impact on growth.

That’s both a marked improvement – a clear move towards “do-no-harm” – and a reason why employment growth has accelerated this year compared to last: in the first seven months of this year, we’ve added an average of 230,000 jobs per month compared to 196,000 over the comparable period last year, a cumulative difference of 240,000 jobs. That’s not a huge difference, but I’ll take it.

So am I really saying we’re better off with these guys and gals suing the president instead of dealing with the challenges we face? Not at all – I know for a fact that there are members of both parties who are capable of reaching effective compromise that would move the country forward. But because these voices and efforts have been consistently blocked and thwarted, all that I’m asking for now is to do no harm.

Jared Bernstein, a former chief economist to Vice President Biden, is a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and author of “Crunch: Why Do I Feel So Squeezed?” among other books.

 

Jared Bernstein

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 14 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • rlw895August 07, 2014 - 4:59 am

    Congress in capable of passing competent legislation. Witness the VA reform bill. The do-nothing congress has, for political reasons, decided to minimize giving president Obama bills he can sign--or veto, for that matter. Congressional Democrats block bills Obama would veto, while congressional Republicans block bills that he can sign. Is it any wonder Obama spends so much time outside of Washington?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • DanielAugust 07, 2014 - 7:04 am

    First of all let's get the facts straight, instead mindlessly parroting the stereotyping what the DNC controlled lame streams rantings are. The do-everything House has passed a record 361 bills including bi-partisan ones that have single handily been blocked by the idiot Harry Reid from ever even being heard on the Senate floor, Do you know that the House even passed comprehensive migration reform news which the lame stream has censored? The biggest problem is that there's an AWOL president that would rather fund raise by bashing the GOP, play golf and vacation rather than ever pick up the phone and call congress let alone be persistent like every single previous president before him,

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895August 07, 2014 - 9:51 pm

    Weren't like 60 of those bills to repeal ObamaCare?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. SmithAugust 07, 2014 - 10:15 pm

    That still leaves about 300 non-ACA related bills that Harry refused to bring to the floor, rlw. Jeez--get a new talking point. And why not allow one or more of those 60 bills to repeal AND REPLACE the ACA to a vote? Isn't that the American way? Apparently not in a democrat controlled senate. The party of no? Obama and the dems--hands down. But don't tell the lamestream media.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895August 08, 2014 - 12:36 am

    Mr.S: It's talking point and reply. My point is the number of bills passed is irrelevant to make the point. Give me ONE "plain vanilla" (routine, noncontroversial) bill that the Democrats have bottled up. Obama claims the Republicans won't pass even "plain vanilla" bills. We can look up what he meant. The implication is IF the Republicans pass one, the Democrats in the Senate go along, and Obama signs it. Has Harry Reid stopped any such bills?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • TermiteAugust 08, 2014 - 7:18 am

    OK, rlw895, here goes. As of July 7, 2014. 352 bills passed by the House are on Harry Reid's desk. 98 percent (yes, ninety-eight percent) passed the House with bipartisan (you do understand what that means, I hope) support, 50 percent ( that means half) passed the House with no opposition at all, and 55 of the bills on good ol' Harry's desk were introduced by Democrats. Now let's see you spin these numbers!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895August 08, 2014 - 7:40 am

    That's useful. I'm not trying to spin anything. Name one "plain vanilla" bill for a deeper look.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • TermiteAugust 08, 2014 - 7:46 am

    What a silly answer, rlw895. Spin, just as I predicted. You must be getting dizzy by now doing your Whirling Dervish routine.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895August 08, 2014 - 7:55 am

    You're diverting. You're also misusing the term "spin."

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895August 08, 2014 - 7:56 am

    Certainly you source of numbers provides a favorite example. Or not?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895August 08, 2014 - 7:59 am

    *your

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • TermiteAugust 08, 2014 - 7:25 am

    Do nothing SENATE! Harry Reid is sitting on a huge pile of legislation which includes plenty of "vanilla" bills. What Harry Reid and Obama really mean is that Congress has so far refused to pass legislation which exactly fits Obama's "fundamental transformation" scheme. Compromise to that pair of bad actors means "sit down, shut up, and do what Obama tells you to do." In the meantime, ordinary business in the country can just wait until Harry and Barry get their way.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • WilliamAugust 07, 2014 - 7:27 am

    The partisan libs like to paint everyone that they don't agree with as parroting FOXisms, it's no wonder because they parrot every stereotyping that the DNC and their controlled lame-stream create no matter how untrue it is. The do-everything House has passed a record 361 bills including many bi-partisan ones. Harry Reid has single handily blocked every singe one from ever coming to be even read let alone considered by the Senate. However Reid isn't our biggest problem, it's having an AWOL President whom uses the largely unknown Reid blockages to bash the GOP and fund raise off the stereotyping instead of doing what every other President has previously done, pick up the phone and even be persistent. This "President" would much rather fund raise, have a one week birthday party and vacation rather than showing up to work even for one day.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagAugust 07, 2014 - 7:43 pm

    Oh Mr. Bernstein you must be a lib yourself, OK your statement is (I know for a fact that there are members of both parties who are capable of reaching effective compromise) I assume you are correct but that would be your friends the liberal democrats and the left leaning Republicans (yes you read that correctly) I said the left leaning republicans, I actually love the fact that we have not extended un-employment insurance again and we don’t have an immigration bill. You want an immigration bill? OK fine close the boarders and send all the illegals home, there you got your bill so to answer you Yes doing nothing and blocking everything is MUCH better then letting your president having his way.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

David Grant doctor’s mission continues

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Chamber PAC draws candidates to Jelly Belly

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Damaged dog gets going-away party after getting healthy

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Suisun City slaying suspect case moves forward

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Touro University to host Zombie Run/Walk

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Land trust organizes Rockville Trails Preserve hike

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Police enlist help to find armed bandit

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A4, 12 Comments | Gallery

 
Chamber to host Suisun City candidates night

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A5

 
 
 
Suisun police to host medication take-back

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A5

Coastal Cleanup Day targets local waterways

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Judge questions juror in Calkins case

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

Drama reigns supreme with week’s film debuts

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

 
Anti-drug programs face funding shortfall

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A8

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Sept. 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 14, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Sept. 13, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 13, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Sept. 14, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Weather for Sept. 17, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B14

.

US / World

Woman in wildfire’s path lost almost everything

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Lumber town takes stock after wind-driven wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

PG&E officials leave posts over improper emails

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
Things to know about California groundwater law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

California drivers must give bikes 3-foot buffer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 7 Comments | Gallery

 
San Francisco trying shaming for quake safety

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Governor signs first California groundwater rules

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Robbery suspects tried to make off with $15,600

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Top general: US ground troops possible in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Obama: Ebola outbreak a threat to global security

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

UN: Nearly $1 billion needed now to stop Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
CDC study: Americans’ bellies are expanding fast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 2 Comments | Gallery

Blacks, Hispanics have doubts about media accuracy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
School bus driver killed during safety drill

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Hunt on for survivalist charged in trooper killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
Afghan suicide bomber kills 3 foreign troops

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Mexico airlifts tourists after Hurricane Odile

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Ukraine lawmakers ratify landmark deal with Europe

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 1 Comment | Gallery

Iraq parliament rejects interior, defense nominees

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

 
.

Opinion

 
Time for utility execs to start worrying

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A11

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 17, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
Climate change: Complacent vs. apocalyptic

By John M. Crisp | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

 
Column focus on campaign signs misplaced

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 13 Comments

.

Living

Today in History: Sept. 17, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Sept. 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My selfish husband neglects and cheats on me. What’s next?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Sept. 17, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

All the flavors of fall in one twice-baked package

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Leave them feeling full with nutritious chia seeds

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

A late summer Southern classic – tomato pie

By Elizabeth Karmel | From Page: B6

 
.

Entertainment

CBS: Rihanna out of NFL telecast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Leonardo DiCaprio named UN Messenger of Peace

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Prep volleyball preview: Big goals for city teams

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Raiders games are like live reruns

By Tony Wade | From Page: B1, 1 Comment

Kazmir, sloppy Athletics lose 6-3 to Rangers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Armijo volleyball team falls to Vintage

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Peavy, Posey help Giants gain ground in NL West

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Criticism mounting for Vikings, Adrian Peterson

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

McIlroy wins PGA player of the year award

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Grand jury to weigh case of NASCAR’s Tony Stewart

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Sacramento Kings to retire Stojakovic’s jersey

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Broncos, Seahawks top AP Pro32 before rematch

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Union appeals Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension by NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jaguars sign Rodriguez grad Jensen off practice squad

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B2

Short stay at NASCAR’s party for AJ and Almirola

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Hindsight: a Ryder Cup tradition, like no other

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Senator ties NFL tax status to Redskins name

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
DA: Josh Gordon gets probation in DWI case in NC

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Anheuser-Busch, McDonald’s voice NFL disapproval

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
49ers defense looks to bounce back from tough day

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

.

Business

NASA picks Boeing and SpaceX to ferry astronauts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Web filter lifts block on gay sites

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Alibaba risk: China’s rise leaves out investors

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Corinthian Colleges sued for predatory lending

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

UPS expects to hire up to 95,000 seasonal workers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
US CEOs less optimistic about hiring, spending

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

.

Obituaries

Minnie Watkins Dixon

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Margaret King

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5