Although this line is attributed to many people, Wikiquote says that Gideon Tucker was the first to warn us that “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”
This cartoon about Keynesian economics sort of makes the same point, but not with the same eloquence.
But that’s not the point of this post. Instead, I want to focus on this grossly misleading headline in USA Today: “This Congress could be least productive since 1947.”
I don’t think it’s a case of media bias or inaccuracy, as we saw with the AP story on poverty, the Brian Ross Tea Party slur, or the Reuters report on job creation and so-called stimulus.
But it does blindly assume that it is productive to impose more laws. Was it productive to enact Obamacare? What about the faux stimulus? Or the Dodd-Frank bailout bill?
Wouldn’t the headline be more accurate if it read, “This Congress could be least destructive since 1947??
Here are the relevant parts of the USA Today report.
Congress is on pace to make history with the least productive legislative year in the post World War II era. Just 61 bills have become law to date in 2012 out of 3,914 bills that have been introduced by lawmakers, or less than 2% of all proposed laws, according to a USA TODAY analysis of records since 1947 kept by the U.S. House Clerk’s office. In 2011, after Republicans took control of the U.S. House, Congress passed just 90 bills into law. The only other year in which Congress failed to pass at least 125 laws was 1995. …When Democrats controlled both chambers during the 111th Congress, 258 laws were enacted in 2010 and 125 in 2009, including President Obama’s health care law.
To be sure, not all legislation is bad. Now that the Supreme Court has failed in its job, Congress would have to enact a law to repeal Obamacare. Laws also would need to be changed to reform entitlements, or adopt a flat tax.
And some laws are benign, such as the enactment of Dairy Goat Awareness Week or naming a federal courthouse.
But I’m guessing that the vast majority of substantive laws are bad for freedom and result in less prosperity.
So let’s cross our fingers that future Congresses are even less productive (and therefore less destructive) than the current one.