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111th Congress In Retrospect

Despite the soul-sucking process, this Congress has been one of the most productive and effective in recent history. Here's a clip from the Washington Post in January, 2010: ...this Democratic Congress is on a path to become one of the most

Despite the soul-sucking process, this Congress has been one of the most productive and effective in recent history. Here's a clip from the Washington Post in January, 2010:

...this Democratic Congress is on a path to become one of the most productive since the Great Society 89th Congress in 1965-66, and Obama already has the most legislative success of any modern president -- and that includes Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson. The deep dysfunction of our politics may have produced public disdain, but it has also delivered record accomplishment.

The productivity began with the stimulus package, which was far more than an injection of $787 billion in government spending to jump-start the ailing economy. More than one-third of it -- $288 billion -- came in the form of tax cuts, making it one of the largest tax cuts in history, with sizable credits for energy conservation and renewable-energy production as well as home-buying and college tuition. The stimulus also promised $19 billion for the critical policy arena of health-information technology, and more than $1 billion to advance research on the effectiveness of health-care treatments.

In 2010, we've had Wall Street regulatory reform, repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the new START treaty appears to have the votes for ratification, food safety bill was passed, student loan reform, extension of tax credits in the stimulus bill benefiting the poor and middle class for two more years, and we may yet still get a 9-11 responders bill passed in some form. These are not small accomplishments.

And yet.

Health care and Wall Street reform were far from the only shows in town. People will remember the 111th Congress as the best and most consequential of most of our lifetimes. And for those of us that had a front row seat? It was appalling, depressing, spirit-deadening, and completely sub-optimal. Go figure. I think it is best not to watch too closely.

Perhaps so. Or, assuming the new tea party House of Representatives doesn't de-fund everything as they're wont to do, we might actually begin to see the benefits kick in, and begin to understand how significant it really was.

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