U.S. Politics

5 Reasons This May Be The Worst Congress Ever

5 Reasons This May Be The Worst Congress Ever

U.S. House of Representatives at the start of the 114th Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 6, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Bourg


If you’re ever trying to decide which Congress is the worst in American history, start off with the 112th — in which a House majority was swept into power following a Tea Party “wave” election and promptly decided to hold the global economy captive by threatening to default on our debt if it didn’t get its way.

Unlike the Congress that passed George W. Bush’s tax cuts and authorized an endless War on Terror, at least this sabotage was purposeful.

In 2011, America was still crawling out of the economic mineshaft after a stern shove from Bush’s Great Recession. It was a textbook example — interest rates were low and the private sector was in tatters — of when government should be investing, not cutting.

Luckily, congressional Republicans decided to pull the gun away from their own heads. They still extracted their pound of flesh in cuts to essential programs. But rather than ask the rich to pay a cent more in taxes in exchange for cuts to Medicare and Social Security, they decided to wait for their chance to turn Medicare into a voucher program in order to pay for massive new tax breaks for the rich. This so-called “Path to Prosperity” plan was authored by Paul Ryan, now Speaker of possibly the worst House ever: the 114th.

Norm Ornstein, a non-partisan expert on the inner workings of Congress says it’s “no exaggeration” to call this one the worst ever. And sometimes even that description seems mild. Here’s why.



  1. Zika
    “The good news is that both the House and Senate have finally passed bills that would provide some funding to combat the Zika virus,” former Ebola Czar Ronald Klain wrote in Sunday’s Washington Post. “The bad news is this action comes more than three months after President Obama requested the aid. Moreover, the House bill provides only one-third of the respond needed; pays for this limited, ineffective response by diverting money allocated to fight other infectious diseases; and necessitates a conference committee to resolve differences with the Senate bill, meaning we still don not know when any money will finally get through Congress to fund the response.” We’ve seen this public health care crisis coming all year, but Republicans seem determined to let it get bad enough to use as a political tool, the way they did in 2014 with Ebola before quickly forgetting they ever wanted to shut down thousands of flights to fight the disease.
  2. Paralysis
    Republicans hold both houses of Congress and have the largest House majority since before FDR — yet they are still enthralled to the rightest of the right wing the self-proclaimed “Freedom Caucus,” conservatives from safe districts that are so white they have to wear sunblock in order to watch daytime TV. “Despite Paul Ryan’s many moves to accommodate Freedom Caucus members, bringing them into the leadership fold and consulting with them regularly, they have given him the middle finger on spending bills, holding firm against any change in the sequester numbers,” Ornstein notes. “And that, of course, puts Ryan right where Boehner was for several agonizing years. To get Freedom Caucus members to go along, Ryan will have to make concessions, which will lose other Republicans and allow Democrats to rip the bills apart with their own amendments.”
  3. Voting Rights Act
    When Republicans last had Control of a functional Congress, they did something admirable — renewing the Voting Rights Act with overwhelming majorities in both houses. Meanwhile conservative interests were using extra-legislative maneuvers to get right wing judicial activists to gut a law that protected the right to vote — “the crown jewel of American liberties,” according to Ronald Reagan — to those who’d historically been denied it. In 2013, after a flurry of voting restrictions that hadn’t been seen since before the VRA, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority gutted the crucial pre-clearance aspect of the law. Now we face, as The Nation‘s Ari Berman keeps pointing out, the first presidential election in 50 years without the protections of this law. The 114th Congress joins the 113th in infamy after doing absolutely nothing to restore protections that would have at least delayed suppressive laws like Virginia’s, which could keep Josephine Okiakpe, a 69-year-old African-American woman, from voting.
  4. Abandoning its duty to confirm appointments
    “The gaps on the executive side, which include key ambassadorships in critical countries and important posts in national security and homeland security, among others, are still overshadowed on the judicial side,” reports Ornstein. “There has been a huge spike in ‘judicial emergencies,’ which are formally designated by the courts when unconscionable delays in justice are caused by heavy workloads produced via court vacancies.”
  5. And the biggest dereliction of duty of all — the Supreme Court
    Republicans have rewritten history and precedent to deny President Obama’s centrist Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland even the dignity of consideration. “The Senate has never taken more than 125 days to vote on a successor from the time of nomination; on average, a nominee has been confirmed, rejected or withdrawn within 25 days,” The New York Times reports. “When Justice Antonin Scalia died, 342 days remained in President Obama’s term.” In 2011, House Republicans in their own ineptitude missed their chance to get the president to agree on a compromise agreement that would have infuriated his base. In 2016, if there’s any justice, they’ll end up rueing their chance to appoint a nominee Orrin Hatch once praised “as good as Republicans can expect from this administration.”


U.S. Politics


Why are Republicans so clueless when it comes to anyone outside of their rich folks’ club bubble?

The Huffington Post

John Boehner: Time For Government To Stop Helping Homeowners

House Speaker John Boehner thinks it’s about time for the government to stop trying to aid people with underwater mortgages.

Responding to a plan President Barack Obama  unveiled Wednesday to help homeowners refinance, Boehner scoffed at the idea and then suggested government should get out of the way of  increasing foreclosures and falling prices.

“One more time? We’ve done this. We’ve done this at least four times where there’s a new government program to help homeowners who have trouble with their mortgages,” the Ohio Republican told reporters on Capitol Hill.

“None of these programs have worked. I don’t know why anyone would think that this next idea is going to work,” Boehner continued. “All it does is delay the clearing of the market. As soon as the market clears and we understand where the prices really are — [that] will be the most important thing we can do in order to improve home values around the country.”

Obama’s plan would require legislation from Congress to permit the Federal Housing Administration to help certain homeowners — specifically, those who are underwater but current in their payments and whose loans are not held by the FHA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac — to obtain new loans at better interest rates, saving $3,000 a year on average. A similar plan already aids people whose mortgages are held by one of those government-backed entities, but other homeowners usually cannot get a bank to refinance their loans.

While the administration’s loan modification effort so far have fallen far short of its goals — reaching fewer than 1 million homeowners when it aimed for 4 million with the last initiative — Shaun Donovan, secretary of housing and urban development, argued Wednesday that doing more is vital.

“Economists on all sides of the political spectrum have recognized that a broad-scale refinancing effort is one of the most important things that we can do, not only for families and for the housing market, but also for the economy more broadly,” Donovan said at a White House briefing.

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