Cumberland Times-News

January 5, 2013

So what?

Congress seems not to care what we think of it


Cumberland Times-News

— How low can it go — Americans’ approval rate of the job Congress is doing? More importantly, does it even matter?

The most recent numbers available, USA Today/Gallup, were based on a Dec. 14-17 poll and came before the fiscal cliff fiasco was resolved. It showed only 18 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing.

According to a report from the NBC network, experts say that because the ratings have been so poor for so long, members of Congress are no longer fazed by the public’s overall disapproval. They note that bashing Congress as a whole has had a minimal impact on individual races and incumbents continue to be the odds-on favorites to be re-elected. Indeed, some 90 percent of incumbents are returning to Washington this year after being reelected.

No wonder members of Congress don’t take popularity polls seriously. They know that chances are they will be re-elected because we have an electorate that keeps returning the same people to Washington, election after election.

Although the fiscal cliff was averted at the last hour, both Republicans and Democrats expect more wrangling — and more stalemate — as budget cuts and taxes are debated in the weeks ahead. It is so bad that House Speaker Boehner has made it known he will no longer negotiate with President Obama on a one-on-one basis. How does that make prospects for a solution better?

There may be a future time when voters truly get fed up with the circus in Congress. But that time has not arrived, and we voters are continue to reap what we sow.