Congress is dilly-dallying as year-end deadlines approach for various measures, including continuation of the 4.2 percent payroll tax rate.
Such down-to-the-wire legislative antics aren’t unusual. I worked for a representative, senator and finally the House Ways and Means Committee in a previous professional life and I remember several holiday breaks being delayed so Congress could complete unfinished business.
But now folks other than congressional staffers are getting tired of this same old routine.
A poll conducted last week by the Pew Research Center found that most Americans view this recent session of Congress as markedly unproductive.
“A record high 50 percent of Americans say that the current Congress has accomplished less than other recent Congresses,” according to the poll. “Thirty-seven percent think it has accomplished about the same amount and just 8 percent say Congress has accomplished more.”
It gets worse, especially if you’re in the House or Senate.
Two-thirds of the potential voters polled say most that members of Congress should be voted out of office in 2012. Pew researchers say that’s the highest on record.
And some voters are taking congressional inaction — or worse, gridlock — personally. Thirty-three percent say their representative should not be re-elected.
That gives the remaining 67 percent some comfort, but according to the Pew report, the 33 percent who want to kick their bums out of office equals the level of anti-incumbent sentiment in 2010, when 58 members of Congress lost their re-election bids. And two years ago was the most Capitol Hill office-changing since 1948.
As for who’s to blame, if you’re a member of the Grand Old Party, watch out.
“The level of anti-incumbent sentiment among Republican voters is particularly notable,” say Pew officials in their analysis of the data. “Fully 70 percent (of Republicans) say that most members should be replaced.”
When the Republicans held the House in 2006, most Americans who identified themselves as members of the party favored keeping their guys and gals in office.
And incumbents who could provide the key votes in deciding who gets to occupy the Oval Office in between 2013 and 2016 are quite unhappy with the current batch of lawmakers.
For the first time on record, according to Pew, more than 7 in 10 independents say most members of Congress should not be re-elected.
To be fair to Congress — I know, but my mother (not to mention my editors) insist — the idea of a do-nothing Congress is not unusual, despite how many bills are passed. But in these politically acrimonious times, the way the people’s business is conducted, or not, is often just as important as the final product.
So take note, representative and senators, you better start doing your jobs and doing them in a more amenable manner, or you’ll be looking for new work in a few months.
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