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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Who Likes Congress?

Answer: No one!

A bit old, but I'm sure public opinion hasn't improved...
(via ChartPorn)

Maybe everyone's finally figured out our Congressmen aren't working for us...
Growing wealth widens distance between lawmakers and constituents

"One day after his shift at the steel mill, Gary Myers drove home in his 10-year-old Pontiac and told his wife he was going to run for Congress.

The odds were long. At 34, ­Myers was the shift foreman at the “hot mill” of the Armco plant here. He had no political experience and little or no money, and he was a Republican in a district that tilted Democratic.

But standing in the dining room, still in his work clothes, he said he felt voters deserved a better choice.

Three years later, he won.

When Myers entered Congress, in 1975, it wasn’t nearly so unusual for a person with few assets besides a home to win and serve in Congress. Though lawmakers on Capitol Hill have long been more prosperous than other Americans, others of that time included a barber, a pipe fitter and a house painter. A handful had even organized into what was called the “Blue Collar Caucus.”

But the financial gap between Americans and their representatives in Congress has widened considerably since then, according to an analysis of financial disclosures by The Washington Post.

Between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House more than doubled, according to the analysis of financial disclosures, from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars, excluding home ­equity.

Over the same period, the wealth of an American family has declined slightly, with the comparable median figure sliding from $20,600 to $20,500, according to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the University of Michigan.

The comparisons exclude home equity because it is not included in congressional reporting, and 1984 was chosen because it is the earliest year for which consistent wealth statistics are available.

The growing disparity between the representatives and the represented means that there is a greater distance between the economic experience of Americans and those of lawmakers.
(Washington Post)


What Congress has done to fix the economy (Hint: Nothing)

"The 112th Congress is not doing much to help the economy.

The super committee failed. Lawmakers failed to "go big" on a debt reduction package. Congress failed to preserve the country's AAA debt rating.

The list goes on: Congress couldn't pass a real budget. The government almost shut down on more than one occasion. Lawmakers pushed the nation perilously close to default.

And that's just the negative stuff Congress has actually done. By way of inaction, they have also failed.

"I give them a failing grade," David Kendall, a senior fellow at centrist think tank Third Way said before reconsidering. "Ok, I'll give them a 'D' because they did some deficit reduction. But even that was not done in a productive way."

The current Congress took power in January, when the economy was sputtering. It's still sputtering today.

The economy grew at only 2.0% in the third quarter, which is actually an improvement from 1.3% gross domestic product growth in the second quarter. The unemployment rate has been sitting at or above 9% since April, and higher than 8% for 33 straight months.

The besieged housing market has even further to fall before home prices really hit rock bottom -- a triple dip.
What has Congress done to help? Not much.

Congress has, to their credit, approved free trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama that have been in the works for years. And a bill designed to reform the nation's twisted patent system became law in September.

But vast areas of policy have gone untouched.

There is a reason for this: Lawmakers disagree on how to best promote growth. The two parties are miles apart on fiscal policy -- and they love to fight about it.

But whose fault is it?
Stupid voters enable broken government

"Whenever I visit Washington, I can't help but think this is the town that elected a crackhead as its mayor.

I know, I know it's not PC to say, but just because it's insensitive doesn't mean it isn't true.

But think about this: There is footage of Marion Barry in a room of crack smoke saying, "Bitch set me up." And yet that image, that video did not disqualify him from being seen as a viable political option in the mind of voters. In fact, not only was he re-elected mayor after serving time in a federal prison, today he sits on the City Council, all because he managed to convince enough black people that the video of him with the crack pipe in his mouth was white people's fault.

When analyzing what is wrong with our government, allow me to present this example as Exhibit A.

Exhibit B would be Newt Gingrich, who cheated on two wives and is the only speaker of the House to have been disciplined for ethics violations. And yet somehow he is running for president of the United States as a religious conservative and managed to get 8% of the votes during last week's straw poll in Florida.

Are you freaking kidding me?

Well, maybe it's not all on the voters...
Reelection Rates


Why your vote for Congress might not matter

"Outside Independence Hall, ask a graduate student in line to see the Liberty Bell what he thinks of gerrymandering, and you might get this answer:

"I think Gerry Mandering is a great guy."

No, he isn't.

Gerrymandering is the term for the way politicians draw boundary lines for legislative districts in a way designed to keep one party or the other in power in that particular district.

In the last 10 years, 78% of the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives -- almost four out of every five members of Congress -- did not change party hands even once.

In California, with 53 seats -- the most in the nation -- incumbents were kept so safe that only one of those seats changed party control in the past decade.

David Wasserman, redistricting expert for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, says only 20 races for Congress are expected to be tossups in the 2012 election. That's only 20 out of the 435 seats in the House.

"In general elections, it's almost rigged," he said.

The "Gerrymander"

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