The 112th U.S. Congress finally did something on its last day before the 113th U.S. Congress was sworn in. As context, the 112th goes on record as having passed fewer bills than any Congress within the past 50 years. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but much work remains to be done.
The last-minute bill passed by the 112th Congress dealt with the so-called “fiscal cliff.” The bill only addressed taxes — increasing some and freezing others. The general public did not appear to recognize that Social Security taxes would be part of the increase, since the reduction enacted a couple of years ago is coming to an end.
Unfortunately the 112th Congress deferred for 60 days any reduction in spending. Consequently we are now at least 60 days further away from reducing the deficit, as we continue to build the record-high debt issued by the federal government. Add to these issues the timing of bumping up against the debt ceiling approved by Congress, and it becomes clear that the 112th Congress accomplished nothing more than to kick the can down the road. Now the 113th Congress, sworn in just last week, will have much to do in a very short order. Sadly, with so many returning legislators, it is hard to imagine that the 113th will be more cooperative than the 112th.
Factor into this mix President Barack Obama’s stated refusal to negotiate on raising the national debt ceiling, and we are set up for more gridlock. The only bright spots are that the public now seems to favor reining in spending, and our new crop of freshman legislators may actually be willing to work across party lines to find solutions.
Only time will tell whether the 113th Congress will deal effectively with the many critical issues it faces. Regardless, few tears were shed to see the 112th Congress come to an end.