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Our Congress at its Finest

By Columns

Imagine getting paid for working only a third of the year. How about a full-time salary with 25 weeks’ vacation? Now how would you feel if you were the one paying all those folks? 

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Well you are! Our 112th Congress. 

535 elected officials employed by us to work for us, but getting things done hasn't been high on the agenda lately.

This Congress is on track to be the least productive congress in more than a generation.

And it's not like it doesn't have work to do. So why are they all running away? 

Congress is breaking for its August recess and our elected officials are running from a whole host of unfinished business.

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It still hasn't come up with a plan to fix the post office.

Many of the post office's problems Congress created like the law forcing it to pay ahead for future retirement benefits - sucking billions of dollars a year out of the agency's budget.

Or national security. For years intelligence officials have been warning us of the dangers of cyber attacks against the United States. It's already a virtual war out there. The Pentagon said it lost tens-of-thousands of files after computers at a private contractor were hacked by a foreign government.

That was over a year ago! Congress said it would get on the case. So what happened this week? Nothing.

The cyber-security bill went down in flames.

One of the bi-partisan bill's chief sponsors was Senator Susan Collins of Maine. She said bluntly, “Rarely have I been so disappointed in the senate's failure to come to grips with a threat to our country."

We're not surprised at all.

Congress fails to come to grips with so many things.

Another piece of work left undone as our lawmakers prepare to take their break: The Farm Bill.

You would think that after a historic drought that has half the country bone dry and food prices going through the roof, Congress would get off its keister! Not a chance.

Other work not done:

Free Trade bill with Russia.

Re-authorizing the Violence against Women act - really shouldn't this law be permanent?

And of course the big one: The Fiscal Cliff.  Figuring out what's going to happen with your taxes come the end of the year.

So with all this work left undone, what critically important issues has Congress been up to?

Here are some examples:

Post office namings.That’s right! Congress is so busy naming post offices, it's done nothing to actually save them!

They were also working on this: The Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp act of 2012. Important maybe, but not when our goose is getting cooked!

How about this: The Belarus Democracy Reauthorization act.

How many lawmakers could point out Belarus on a map?          

We dropped in on a Congressional hearing today to see what they were up to. 

They were talking about Food on Amtrak trains!

So what did they discover? Because of taxpayer subsidies, a $9.50 cheeseburger on an Amtrak train actually costs taxpayers $16.50.

It was the perfect hearing to drop in on.

It reminded us what Congress does best: Wasting time talking about how they're wasting our money.

I guess if they take a break from that it's actually a good thing.