Friday, September 19, 2008

Congressional Irrelevance?

Todd Zywicki:

One interesting aspect of the recent government bailouts has been the complete irrelevance of Congress. The operation and decision-making seems to be run almost entirely by the Secretary of Treasury and Federal Reserve. Congress appears to lack the ability, the will, and the decisiveness to play any role except spectator, as a handful of senior executive branch officials have nationalized major portions of Wall Street.

What is further interesting is that Congress is not missed in the slightest. No one is clamoring for a greater role for our elected representatives in dealing with these problems. I haven't heard anyone saying, "We really need to get Congress more involved in this. They'll know what to do." . . .

Put more generally, Congress's ridiculousness has increasingly caused it to forfeit its status a co-equal branch of government. 40 or 50 years ago it might have been plausible to imagine Congress addressing important public policy issues like entitlement reform or health care reform (I'm not saying they would have done it, but it seems like it was more plausible then). Serious people were in the Senate then--Taft, Johnson, etc. Today, however, the idea that serious solutions to pressing social problems might originate in Congress is hard to suggest with a straight face.

Read the whole thing.

(HT Glenn Reynolds)

1 comment:

Dr. N said...

Of course, this is no longer true now that Congress is getting into the act, buying up mortgage backed securities. I think this mostly has to do with the fact that quick action was needed and Congress was never designed to act quickly. The executive, on the other was designed to act quickly. In crisis situations like this, we should expect the executive to take the lead. This doesn't mean that Congress has become irrelevant. It means that the system is behaving as intended.