Our Opinion: Discourteous, divided Congress ditches D.C.

Do you approve of the job Congress is doing?

If so, you’re in the minority.

The approval rating for Congress has hovered in the mid-teens for the past six months.

That dismal rating is not unwarranted.

Congress remains deeply divided – House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans; Tea Party adherents and more moderate members.

Decorum has descended into discourteous remarks, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s admonition to: “Have senators sit down and shut up, OK?”

And, rather than work toward conciliation or compromise, congressmen are coming home to begin a five-week break.

The divisiveness can be traced to a lack of trust among members. First-term legislator and Tea Party-supported Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said: “I don’t trust the Republicans. I don’t trust the Democrats, and I think a whole lot of Americans likewise don’t trust the Republicans or the Democrats because it is leadership in both parties that has got us into this mess.”

The impasse created by distrust prompted a frustrated House Speaker John Boehner to suggest a new normal for Congress. He said: “We should not be judged on how many new laws we create. We ought to be judged on how many laws that we repeal.”

By any standard, however, Congress is required to budget for the continuing operation of the federal government.

And that has proven to be a challenge, resulting not in prudent fiscal management, but in continuing resolutions, raising debt limits, sequestration and threats to shut down government.

For Congress, action has become elusive unless it is reaction to a crisis – often a crisis of its own making.

After finding itself mired in its own mess, Congress has decided to take a break.

Which raises the question: Can its approval rating dip any lower?

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