Congress is the ideal American institution: it spends far more than it takes in and borrows the difference. We love that. To heck with the future. It means free money, services, wars, and other goodies. At least some of us get to profit from it. And then we blow it or invest it, and lose it or make money on it. It all adds up to that glorious GDP. It’s the American dream.
Lawmakers are so efficient at it that 36% of every dollar in the budget has to be borrowed…. Oh wait. They don’t do budgets anymore. They’re uncool. They do continuing resolutions. Given this bottomless largesse, mathematically speaking, it’s logical that Congress would have sky-high approval rating. Wait…. Oh no!
Only 11% of the people approve of the Herculean job lawmakers are doing, according to Gallup, which has a knack for peeking at our innermost feelings. It’s the lowest score since Gallup started tracking it in 1974.
How can that be? Didn’t we just learn that it’s a virtuous activity for lawmakers to give out privileged information on pending legislation? Profiting from opportunity is an American principle we cherish. So, a few hedge funds were given tradable information about compromises in the healthcare law just before the announcement on December 8, 2009. According to the Wall Street Journal:
They belong to a select group who pay for early, firsthand reports on Capitol Hill. Seeking advance word of government decisions is part of a growing, lucrative—and legal—practice in Washington that employs a network of brokers, lobbyists and political insiders.
Insider trading by lawmakers and staff is an honorable practice as well. It’s perfectly legal and part and partial of their wealth aggregation package, according to 60 Minutes. So how can it be that a record 86% of the people disapprove of the fine job Congress is doing?