Say what one will about Congress. For at least the last two years they have not sat on their backside doing nothing while collecting a fat check. Most Americans have a long history of resenting what they see as overpaid do-nothing politicians. (I am something of an exception, preferring do nothing politicians.) And over the last two years there has been mounting fury with Congress from both the far left and the far right.
The far right, at least from their perspective, has some pretty fair grounds for complaint which I will enumerate shortly. What I find difficult to grasp is the rage of the left. By any reasonable standard (I opine as a historian) the 111th Congress has been the most active and liberal (or "progressive" if you prefer that term) in at least a generation. Consider just a few of the more notable accomplishments of this Congress.
Cap & Trade. (Corrected as per comment from gdelassu.)
- End of ban on embryonic stem cell research.
- End of ban on US Foreign Aid being used to promote abortion
- Sweeping new environmental regulations.
- Sweeping overhaul of the nation's financial services industry and broad new consumer protection laws.
- Massive overhaul of the nation's health insurance industry and a mandate for universal, though privately run, health insurance by 2014.
- Massive expenditures on schools and infrastructure as part of hundreds of billions in so called "stimulus."
- Government bailouts of GM, Chrysler and other bankrupt mega-corps. And rigging the bankruptcy proceedings to insure that the UAW would receive the same "stakeholder" status in the courts as bondholders. (Translation: HUGE win for labor unions while bond holders got ripped off.)
- Extension of unemployment benefits to the point where they are now almost perpetual.
- Repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell which is being hailed in some quarters as the most important piece of civil rights legislation since the 1960's.
- Extension of the Bush Era tax cuts (probably the only item that had broad Republican support).
- And the probable ratification of a broad new arms limitation and reduction agreement with Russia.
And yet the far left remains convinced that they have been betrayed. Millions stayed home on election day in protest of what they saw as the failure of the large Democratic majorities in Congress to push through a progressive agenda (no doubt greatly aiding the GOP's big election win). But from an historical perspective I am hard pressed to think of any Congress that, for good or ill, has done so much since at least the 1960's. Indeed a compelling argument could be made that this has been the most revolutionary Congress since the early years of FDR's New Deal.
What exactly is the political left complaining about?