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Don’t Just Do Something

3:01 PM, Dec 10, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
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Today is a snow day in Washington so even less will get done than on a day when the sun shines.  And this year has been particularly unproductive, as Laura Litvan at Bloomberg writes:

… Congress is on pace to have its least productive year ever, with just 56 pieces of legislation signed into law so far. The former record low, reached in 1995, was 88 new laws.

So would life suddenly be more agreeable if Congress suddenly started passing a lot of the laws that are in debate?  Or is gridlock a kind of defense mechanism against the next Obamacare?  After all, 1995 does not stand out in memory as such a bad year.  Not bad enough, anyway, to result in the election of President Dole.

The voices calling for new legislation are not, all of them, disinterested.  Some of those quoted by Ms. Litvan could be said to have an agenda and their complaints might constitute special pleading.

“The major issues that we think are necessary to jump-start the American economy continue to languish,” said Bill Miller, top lobbyist for a group that represents chief executives of companies such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)

Have we arrived at a time when what is good for Walmart & Microsoft is good for the country and that they need special treatment?  Or, might it be preferable for those companies and others to know that the rules are clear-cut and enforced with reasonable consistency and that Congress cannot be relied upon to carry water for any one industry, company, union, trade group, tribe of lobbyists, etc. etc. That it will not, therefore, be necessary to pay a lot of money to influence legislation or elections?

Could a belief in the ability of Washington to fix things be, perhaps, among the great delusions of our time.  Sam Walton and Bill Gates didn’t go to Congress for permission to start their businesses or for special protections for their companies. Which, even as recently as 1995 were doing okay without help from the government.

Let it snow.   

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