NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Goodbye 107th Congress

October 18, 2002

There is a possibility Congress could return for a lame-duck session after the November election, but for now the House has closed up shop and the Senate is winding down. Many observers are breathing a sigh of relief, noting that the best that can be said about the 107th Congress is that it managed to do less damage than usual.

  • It gets high marks for passing President Bush's tax cut -- despite the facts that the cuts are phased in and the foolishness of its 10-year sunset provision.
  • The tax cuts, observers note, took money out of the hands of a spendthrift Congress.
  • Congress's other accomplishment was trade promotion authority -- although President Bush's damaging steel tariffs were part of the political price.

The best news, say Congress watchers, may be what legislators didn't do.

  • There are no new massive health care mandates -- under the guise of "patients' bill of rights" -- that would make trial lawyers richer and health insurance too expensive for more people.
  • Except for the harmful farm bill, there were no new entitlement programs.
  • Legislators didn't lose their heads over Enron and respond with too many new corporate regulations -- though that doesn't mean some didn't try.
  • And the energy bill, which started out well but turned into Farm Bill II, remains stuck in committee where it will probably quietly expire.

The education reform bill, the No Child Left Behind Act, began with some meaningful reforms, observers say, but the testing and voucher elements were watered down or removed. Other Bush initiatives meet the same fate, observers lament.

Source: Editorial, "Don't Come Back," Wall Street Journal, October 18, 2002.

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