As this session of the 113th Congress draws to a merciful close, much of the punditry has picked up on the refrain that this is the “most unproductive Congress in history.” Indeed, this Congress has passed just 28 bills, easily eclipsing the previous record for inactivity set by Congress in 2012, when it passed just 68 new laws. But why, we might ask, is this such a bad thing?
Sure, there are things we might have wished Congress had accomplished. Something to address immigration or entitlement reform springs to mind. And it certainly would have produced less chaos if Congress had actually managed to pass annual appropriations bills instead of cramming all spending into the usual last-minute continuing resolution.
But there is a presumption behind such handwringing that we really need Congress to be even more involved in our lives than it is. Consider the laundry list of new programs that President Obama introduced in his State of the Union address back in January: early-childhood education, green energy, more economic stimulus, a higher minimum wage, and so on. Would we really have been better off if those things had passed?
We already face a record $17.2 trillion national debt. Should Congress have spent even more money?