At Law and Liberty James Wallner provides a succinct description of our present Congressional non-performance:
In theory, polarization makes it harder for senators to compromise by increasing the distance between the two parties. Senators agree on less and less as that gap widens and, as a consequence, the majority goes to greater lengths to avoid negotiating with the minority. Gridlock results when the gap becomes unbridgeable. At that point, the majority is left with no other choice but to eliminate the minority’s ability to obstruct if it wants to pass its agenda.
But in reality, the problem underlying Congress’s present dysfunction is a lack of effort, not polarization. That is, the Senate is mired in gridlock because its members are unwilling to expend the effort required to legislate successfully in a polarized environment.
He’s letting the House off too easily. The House has been inactive, too, and they don’t even have the excuse of the filibuster to blame. The House just isn’t working as hard as it used to.
I would say that the Congress is performing just about as expected. The notion that the Senate is where heated legislation goes to cool probably wasn’t said by Washington but it’s true nonetheless. When you add to that that the voters are less likely to penalize an incumbent for doing nothing than for acting against their wishes and that incumbents tend to get re-elected, House nonfeasance is perfectly understandable.
My solution to that has been to make serving in the Congress less of a sinecure, to increase substantially the number of members of the House, and to pay them a lot less. Don’t expect incumbents to support anything that would actually reform the Congress.