Sunday, December 28, 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

New circulation director for Daily Republic has California roots

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Suisun’s transformation launched 25 years ago

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Picking the year’s biggest story: A playoff

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

Kwanzaa educates, celebrates African-American heritage

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
AARP tax program seeks volunteers

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Holiday shopping continues after Christmas

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Rush Ranch plans birds of prey workshop

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Winter feeding of backyard birds

By Launa Herrmann | From Page: C4

 
Weather for Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B6

 
Market predictions for 2015

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: B7

Projects to watch in 2015

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | From Page: B7

 
County graduates complete basic training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

 
Suisun City police log: Dec. 26, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Dec. 26, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Shoppers brawl inside Northern California mall

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Police in San Diego suburb give cash at traffic stops

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Death penalty states unmoved by botched execution

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
San Diego sees costs balloon for outdoor public toilets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Arizona police officer, suspect killed in shootout

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Lava creeps 15 yards closer to Hawaii marketplace

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

NYC officer mourned at funeral as tensions linger

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
School error takes money from staff bank accounts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Protester in St. Louis area charged with arson

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Spokesman: George H.W. Bush remains in hospital

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

2 small planes collide in Maryland; no injuries

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Drought, plastic bags prompt new California laws

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

School bans ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-shirts at tournament

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Final goodbye: Roll call of some who died in 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Families take future war dogs into homes as foster pups

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Woman uses quilt to help those in military

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

Del. WWII vet honored with medals 70 years later

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Snow, ice sweep Europe, stranding drivers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

N. Korea uses racial slur against Obama over hack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Pilot recalls last flight to Cyprus airport

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Wanted extremist leader surrenders in Somalia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
.

Opinion

Sound Off: Dec. 28, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A8

 
Redrawn districts made for some tight races

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

Putin’s epic annual news conference, condensed

By Ishaan Tharoor | From Page: A8

 
Leaders fan flames of racial hatred

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History: Dec. 28, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Dec. 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Why do we celebrate Christmas, part two

By Perry W. Polk | From Page: C3

 
Comforting immigrants is nun’s mission

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

Pope’s role in Cuba deal fractures Cuban-American flock

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Bethel Community Church buys Temple Baptist site

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Coping with mental illness or loss during holiday season

By The Associated Press | From Page: C4

 
Horoscopes: Dec. 28, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

My son’s cat is being neglected and I don’t know what to do

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

 
.

Entertainment

Blagojevich brother: I was fed ‘pawn’ to get then-governor

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
Company loses bid for rights to Marvel superheroes

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

Jonah Lehrer working on book about digital life

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

Warriors shake off skid, beat Timberwolves 110-97

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
No. 1 Kentucky holds off No. 4 Louisville 58-50

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Vanden’s Koss named 2014 DR Male Athlete of the Year

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Broncos see a much better Raiders team this time

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Cardinals have hopes of division crown, 12 wins

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Anze Kopitar leads LA Kings past Sharks, 3-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Sam: Coming out was right thing to do

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Vikings stadium builders work on career highlight

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Devils replace DeBoer with 3-headed coaching staff

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Authorities question Cubs’ Castro after shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Browns suspend receiver Josh Gordon, Manziel late

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Sports deaths: elegant Tony Gwynn, Jean Beliveau

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Cousins leads Kings past Knicks 135-129 in OT

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Bowling report for Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

First Step seeks players, help for 2015 season

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

 
Devil Dawgs retiring after run of success

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

Virginia Tech beats Cincy 33-17 in Military Bowl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
S Carolina tops Miami 24-21 in Independence Bowl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Arizona State beats Duke 36-31 in Sun Bowl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Penn State tops Boston College 31-30 in OT in Pinstripe Bowl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Kessler leads No. 24 USC to 45-42 win over Huskers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Jameis, Marcus and Mickey: Rose Bowl week starts at Disney

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
This date in sports history for Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Business

 
Top business stories of 2014: US grows, world slows

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

BP appeals rejection of removing spill claims head

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Why areas with good jobs have hard-to-afford homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

US company to open tuna cannery in American Samoa

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

 
Ruling opens door for cruise malpractice lawsuits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

6 US cities: Good jobs but hard-to-afford homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

 
.

Obituaries

Judy Zamora Rogers

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Concordia Albang Lichauco

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Frances Cruz Pangelinan

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Oriole Ernestine Cohen

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

John Benjamin Calvin Adams

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Rae Jean Malveaux

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
.

Secrets of Success 2014

120 Years: Fentons still a treat after all this time

By Susan Winlow | From Page: SOS2 | Gallery

80 Years: Gillespie’s adapts to meet customer needs, thrives

By Ian Thompson | From Page: SOS5 | Gallery

60 Years: Ryan’s Automotive hits milestone of service

By Ian Thompson | From Page: SOS6 | Gallery

55 Years: Mary’s Pizza Shack keeps dishing the pies

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: SOS7 | Gallery

50 Years: Cal Yee Farms marks half-century – and counting

By Ian Thompson | From Page: SOS7 | Gallery

40 Years: Floors To Go weathers recession, bounces back strong

By Ian Thompson | From Page: SOS8 | Gallery

40 Years: Vaca Valley Auto Parts a Fairfield mainstay

By Barry Eberling | From Page: SOS9 | Gallery

35 Years: Vogelpohl prides herself as problem solver

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: SOS10 | Gallery

35 Years: Medic Ambulance rolling strong

By Barry Eberling | From Page: SOS10 | Gallery

35 Years: Scandia Family Fun Center roots run deep

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: SOS10 | Gallery

30 Years: North Bay Pediatrics serves children, parents

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: SOS11 | Gallery

35 Years: More than 1,700 home sales – and counting – for Watson

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: SOS11 | Gallery

30 Years: Sportabout all about tennis – and shoes of all sorts

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: SOS11 | Gallery

25 Years: It’s always showtime for Fairfield’s Finger

By Tony Wade | From Page: SOS12 | Gallery

25 Years: Feins helps build memories through Air Land & Sea Travel

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: SOS13 | Gallery

25 Years: The Hair Place celebrates quarter-century of cuts

By Susan Hiland | From Page: SOS13 | Gallery

20 Years: Quality breeds success for Universal Painting

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: SOS14 | Gallery

10 Years: By the People helps with basic, complex legal issues

By Susan Hiland | From Page: SOS15 | Gallery

10 Years: Cornerstone Quilt Shoppe adds new wrinkle at decade mark

By Barry Eberling | From Page: SOS15 | Gallery