Congress Ignores National Crisis, Heads Off on Five-Week Vacation

How to Make Government Work
Aug. 3 2012 4:32 PM

Congress Ignores National Crisis, Heads Off on Five-Week Vacation

Sen. Jim DeMint
Sen. Jim DeMint, center, speaks at a press conference in March.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

So imagine showing up to work late for a couple of months in a row, not doing any of the things your boss asks you to do, and then waltzing into your boss' office on Aug. 1 and asking for five-week paid vacation! That's exactly what's happening in Washington, where Congress is choosing to do nothing rather than grapple with the country’s huge problems.

I hate to add to the long litany of "Congress isn't doing its job" tirades, but at a certain point, it really does force you to think something has gone terribly wrong.

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Just look at the record of the 112th Congress. Bills to provide tax relief for American workers and businesses, take care of teachers and first responders, repeal big-oil tax subsidies, reduce the deficit, help students in debt, remedy gender-based wage discrimination, bring transparency to spending in elections, and deliver jobs outsourced overseas back home—all killed in the Senate by a GOP minority through the threat of filibuster.

In past few days alone, Congress failed to move on a cybersecurity bill supported by senior officials in both parties. It failed to pass an agricultural bill desperately needed to help an agricultural sector being destroyed by a horrific drought. It did nothing to deal with the approaching expiration of the tax cuts for the middle class, nothing to avoid the fiscal cliff that approaches. Congress punted on all the appropriations bills by merely passing a continuing resolution to kick the can down the road for six months.

Congress has done almost nothing on any of the serious issues facing us, yet it now has decided to go on recess for weeks!

What to do? Throw all the bums out is the simplistic and wrongheaded answer. Throw out the rabid, right-wing Tea Party bums is the right one. Led by Grover Norquist on financial matters and by Sens. Jim DeMint and Ron Johnson on social issues, they have caused a polarization that defies the more centrist views of the public and refuses to permit the sensible compromises that are required in a legislative body. It is time to end the Tea Party-driven gridlock that has frozen Washington.

Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of the state of New York, hosts Viewpoint on Current TV. Follow @eliotspitzer on Twitter.