Will the US Avert the Fiscal Cliff?

Not likely, with this Congress

With only a few hours left, it doesn't look promising that the 112th Congress will be able to pass even one more bill, to add to their lacklustre record of 219 bills passed during session.

This Congress will have the distinction of having passed the fewest bills in 65 years of record. That's quite a sad achievement.

The following viz shows the congressional record since 1947, with the number of bills passed during the Speakers tenure.  At a glance, it's easy to see that a Democratically controlled house gets more done, even with a Republican presidency.  However, fewer bills have been passed in the past 2 decades compared to the previous 40 plus years.  It would seem that if this trend continues, democracy will be proven meaningless.


  1. Since when do we judge government by the number of new laws passed? Frankly with the crop of legislators we've had the last 15 years...less would be better. Do a time series analysis of budget deficits over the last 110 years. Ask yourself if all responsible governments should consistently spend more than they take in. What does that eventually lead to? Does government or the market deploy capital more effectively? Should the government bailout banks? Are there limits to effective social welfare?

    1. Hi DGM885,
      I think the number of bills passed is a pretty good measure of productivity; that's the job, discuss issues, make decisions. I think that democracy is a little like marriage, it requires communication and compromise to work. It's great that the two sides have different positions, that's representation, but they need to make decisions, live with them, and change course when needed. Not making decisions is worse than making bad ones sometimes. No one would run a marriage that way. Or a corporation. As for the US deficit, the last time there was a budget surplus was under Clinton, when they passed a lot more bills than this congress (and raised taxes).