The 111th Congress is officially over, and according to Gallup, it’s also officially the worst Congress in the history of polling. Yet despite its 13% approval rating there are those who are hailing the 111th Congress for its myriad legislative “accomplishments.”
Not surprisingly, many of those touting those “accomplishments” are the very members of Congress who voted for the legislation in the first place. Starting at the top with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), you find a woman who is not at all ashamed of the legislation she has passed, despite the disastrous poll numbers. Pelosi says she is “very, very proud of the work that was accomplished by this Congress.”
The American people, though, think differently, and they have already issued their verdict on the 111th Congress by way of an earthshaking election in November. If you take a look at some of Congress’ big-ticket “accomplishments,” you might understand where they’re coming from.
Here’s a look at 10 major pieces of legislation coming out of Congress the last two years and why Americans might not be so pleased:
- Obamacare: Billed as the panacea for America’s health care woes, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare,” is a 2,700-page behemoth that “portends a massive transfer of power, dollars and decision making to the federal government,” says Heritage’s Nina Owcharenko. Heritage also finds that under the law, workers and families will face increased costs, seniors will lose access to care, and American taxpayers will take the hit for a trillion dollars in new federal spending. (3/2010)
- The Failed Stimulus (a.k.a., the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act): President Obama promised that his stimulus would save or create 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010. The result? America saw a bunch of orange and green “ARRA” signs sprout up like dandelions all over America, touting the slogan “Putting America to Work,” but here we are in December 2010 with a 9.8 percent unemployment rate, a national debt of $2.9 trillion, and 7.3 million jobs shy of President Obama’s promise. Some stimulus! (2/2009)
- The 9,000-Earmark Omnibus Bill: Never mind the $1.4 trillion budget deficit facing America in 2009. Congress went ahead and passed an omnibus spending bill containing 9,287 pork project earmarks costing $13 billion. Included in the earmarks were a $200,000 tattoo removal program in Mission Hills, Calif., and more than a million dollars to combat Mormon Crickets in Utah. (3/2009)
- Mountains of Debt: You can’t pin it on one piece of legislation alone, but the 111th Congress has piled heaps upon heaps of new debt — a massive $3.22 trillion. That comes out to $10,429.64 for every man, woman and child counted in the 2010 census. That’s more debt racked-up than in the first 100 Congresses combined, according to CNSNews.com. The total national debt as of the 111th Congress’ last day? $13.859 trillion.
- The Government Union Bailout: As if one massive bailout weren’t enough, President Obama and the 111th Congress delivered another $26.1 billion bailout in the summer of 2010. The beneficiaries? Government unions and big-spending states that wouldn’t know a balanced budget if it smacked them in the face. The bill was supposed to “save” jobs, but the reality is that most jobs were never in jeopardy. (8/2010)
- Wall Street Reform? Think Again: While President Obama touted the Dodd-Frank bill of 2010 as a reform of Wall Street and America’s financial rules, the resulting law is a boon for lawyers and lobbyists, thanks to its creation of 243 new formal rule-makings by 11 different federal agencies. What’s more, the bill “does nothing to stop future government bailouts,” makes a TARP-like bailout system permanent, and does nothing to reform two of the biggest culprits behind the financial crisis: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (7/2010)
- The “Neighborhood Destabilization Act”: Speaker Pelosi would refer to it as the “Helping Families Save Their Homes Act,” but in reality the law does the opposite by “putting millions of homeowners or potential buyers at greater risk of an unstable credit and housing market and creating high interest rates in the future.” And if you’re a responsible homeowner, you lose big time.
- Cash for Clunkers: Stuck with an old car or truck? Under this plan, the U.S. government would have paid you $3,500 to $4,500 to trade it in for a new, more fuel efficient vehicle. Though the program boosted sales for the two months it was in place, a study showed the clunker program was a clinker. It didn’t bring new buyers into the market; it merely accelerated purchases. The cost to the taxpayers? $3 billion. (According to an Edmunds analysis, it came to $24,000 per car.) (6/2009)
- New START: President Obama sold this nuclear arms treaty between the United States and Russia as an effort to reduce nuclear weapons. Conservatives, though, criticized it for being “useless in limiting proliferation, detrimental to missile defense, and counter to the purpose of defense treaties — defending and protecting America from her enemies.” (12/2010)
- Cap-and-Trade: The Waxman-Markey climate bill that passed the House was intended to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions with the goal of curbing global warming. Were it enacted (which it wasn’t), the plan would have increased gas prices by 58%, and average household electric rates would increase by 90% by 2035. (Passed House in 6/2009; stalled in Senate)
Americans should expect better results from the 112th Congress, that is, if the newly-elected representatives heed their electoral mandate: less spending, lower taxes and limited government. But Americans should also be aware that even if Congress stays in line, President Obama can still pursue a big government agenda with more regulations from unelected bureaucrats. As the president said when the Democrats lost the House and failed to enact cap-and-trade, “I’m going to be looking for other means to address this problem.” America, look out.
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