Last year we experienced a truly do nothing Congress and it was awful. When Congress didn’t meet its bare minimum requirements the government shut down and the entire economy was threatened. Everything from planning ahead vacations to milk prices becomes problematic.
This year though is shaping up be a do almost nothing Congress. The government funding bill was passed with little fanfare. The farm bill is moving forward. It also looks like the debt ceiling with be raised with only moderate bellyaching and grandstanding from Republicans. Congress is set to do the minimum necessary to keep things running, but nothing more.
It appears Republicans have learned from their previous ill-advised shutdown. President Obama’s job approval ratings are bad and the GOP currently has a modest advantage in the 2014 election. If they can simply not shoot themselves in the foot they could do well this year.
Starting a big public fight with Obama makes him look strong and makes it easy for him to place the blame on Congressional Republicans. It allows Obama to frame getting even the most basic accomplishments look like a victory because he has an adversary. Doing the bare minimum keeps the focus off Congress but makes Obama look weak for getting almost nothing done.
Photo by Katie Harbath under Creative Commons license