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Asia falters, Congress recesses

Jul 2, 2012

Today in the world of uncertainty, we have Asia ...

The morning's headlines about growth in China, Japan and India and the impact on the U.S. economy certainly sent a mixed message.

Meanwhile, Congress is taking its weeklong Independence Day recess after actually passing legislation last Friday, reauthorizing surface transportation programs. (The highway bill also contained some useful provisions on pension stabilization, covered well in Pensions and Investments.) In today's Washington Post -- amid all the excellent storm coverage -- is a front page piece by David Fahrenthold on Congressional inaction, "Congress finally gets its business done. But first, lots of something else." Note this:

The past two weeks represented a final chance for lawmakers to pass substantive legislation before the fall election...

Really? No more serious legislating between now and November? U.S. policymakers are just going to whistle past -- or off -- the fiscal cliff, expecting everything important to be done in a lameduck session of Congress?

According to the Congressional calendar, the House and Senate will be meeting throughout July, for a brief time in August, again in September and October. Yes, to be realistic, campaigning will divert attention, but the Congress cannot ignore the harm that will occur if major tax provisions expire or sequestration goes into effect. As the headlines above show, uncertainty runs rife in Asia, and the only thing certain in Europe is Spain's soccer primacy.

The past two weeks were NOT the final chance for lawmakers to pass substantive legislation before the fall election. The risks of inaction are simply too great to give up on legislating until November.