The do-nothing Congress

A new column for the Financial Times:

Checks and balances are all very well, but sometimes you have to wonder. The first session of the 110th Congress came to a close last week in a disorderly crush of half-baked legislation. It was the end of a year that gave the new Democratic leadership little to boast about. Seizing control of House and Senate in the 2006 elections, the Democrats had big ideas about holding the Bush administration to account, forcing a prompt withdrawal from Iraq and radically realigning the government’s domestic priorities. Measured against those early promises, their record has been dismal.

The budget process was an unintelligible mess – not for the first time, admittedly. An omnibus $555bn spending bill, lumping together who knows how many appropriations bills, finally passed. The president gave it his blessing, because it gave him enough of what he wanted – including $70bn additional funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Admittedly, that is less than half the extra war funding the administration had asked for, but enough for the army to keep going without another supplemental until June.

The rush of unfinished business also included the long-anticipated fix of the alternative minimum tax. This is a parallel income tax, allowing only limited deductions, initially devised to curb tax avoidance by the very rich. Due to years of neglect and rising incomes, it threatened to drag millions of middle-class taxpayers into its net. Patching it up so that this would not happen cost $53bn in forgone revenue.

You can read the rest of the article here

Presented by

The Best 71-Second Animation You'll Watch Today

A rock monster tries to save a village from destruction.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Best 71-Second Animation You'll Watch Today

A rock monster tries to save a village from destruction.

Video

The Case for Napping at Work

Most Americans don't get enough sleep. More and more employers are trying to help address that.

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

Video

Stunning GoPro Footage of a Wildfire

In the field with America’s elite Native American firefighting crew

More in Business

Just In