After a long summer vacation the biggest crisis for Congress to ponder is not whether the U.S. should start a Middle East war in Syria. There is real work to do and Syria is only a priority because Washington has foolishly decided to make it one. Instead, Congress needs to have a look at a long list of unfinished business and figure out how to best explain away an August jobs report that Democrats are struggling to turn into good news.
Jobs are the biggest crisis for Congress.
The percentage of Americans in the labor force is the lowest in 35 years. Even Jimmy Carter can boast better jobs numbers than Barack Obama, whose labor force participation rate continues to decline despite the facade of progress created by the government’s refusal to count everyone who is not working.
Congress’s crisis list is a litany of failure.
Coming back from a long break is even harder when you didn’t do your work before you left. The House will kick off its new session with hearings that include transparency laws and the Delphi pension bailout, but the big issues are still ready, waiting, and not going to go away any time soon:
Jobs: a disaster, especially for older workers and the long-term unemployed.
Obamacare: parts of our new health care system are stalled. With the exchanges about to go online, companies are threatening to cut workers and benefits and are reexamining what they offer retirees.
Debt ceiling and a government shutdown: the same old battle, more tax revenue or spending cuts?
Sequestration: Congress and the president dreamed this one up and it hasn’t gone away.
Entitlement debt: Medicare and Social Security are still going broke and we are about to watch Medicaid explode under the weight of Obamacare.
Add an unnecessary irritant that the president, Democrats, and a few traitorous Republicans consider a make or break issue:
Immigration reform: the White House vowed to get it done this fall. It looks like Syrians could beat out Hispanics for the president’s attention.
One more thing:
Scandals and big government running amuck: what to do about the NSA and the IRS?
More bad news and another crisis for Congress:
Midterms are scarcely one year away, so there are only a few weeks to get everything done before reelection fears take everything off the table.
Is a Middle East war the biggest crisis Congress can come up with? If I worked on Capitol Hill I’d want to distract voters with a protracted debate over a manufactured issue, too. It makes it easier to ignore what really counts.