Friday, July 12, 2013

Are things going well for people who don't like big government?

David Weigel at Slate has a post today about how only 15 bills passed by the 113th Congress have been signed into law by President Obama. By comparison, Mr. Weigel notes that on  July 12, 2005, President George W. Bush signed 13 bills into law just on that day.

One might think that if only 15 bills have been signed into law, then there were probably some vetoes. One would be wrong. According to Wikipedia, President Obama has not vetoed any bills passed by both houses of the 113th Congress. In fact, President Obama has only vetoed 2 bills during his entire presidency.

Some people think that the government that governs best governs least. To give the that thought some intellectual heft people often attribute it to Thomas Jefferson but the statement does not appear in his writings. I don't know whether the 113th Congress vindicates or discredits that school of thought. It does seem like Congress is giving an great example that when opposite parties control the houses of the legislative branch, there is not going to be a lot of new laws.


  1. Interesting.

    Whether or not you like big government, I wonder if we could agree that the overall amount of new legislation should decrease over time. I mean, aren't we kind of figuring things out? Sure, new things come up, but -- for instance -- do we really need any new crimes? How many more laws are left to be made? Go to the law library and check out the U.S.C.A. section, all those beautiful burgundy books all bound up waiting to be perused. We've got a lot of laws already. I'm confident we can manage okay with the work we've done.

    1. I don't know if we are figuring things out or not. Some evidence that we are not is that the House of Representatives just passed a farm bill full of subsidies that many economists say are unnecessary and distort the market but did not pass any legislation with respect to the food stamp program. Apparently helping poor people is no longer something government should do. Further evidence that we need some more laws is at Nick May's blog.
      A functioning congress would pass laws overruling those decisions as they are flat out wrong. A functioning congress would also pass a law to fix the Supreme Court's recent Voting Rights Act decision. That will also not happen.
      I'm agnostic on whether we need new criminal laws. I guess I would support some new criminal laws to address some of the weird sentencing disparities that we have discussed in the past.

  2. Some fun facts.

    1) The 13 bills that Bush signed on July 12, 2005? Each of them was an act of Congress to rename a post office! Every single one of them! Maybe we can find some more post offices to rename? The post office in underneath my office is unnamed, I believe. I think I will start a petition on the White House website.

    2) Here are some of the other awesome laws passed and signed by Congress and signed by Bush by this point in the second session of the 109th Congress:

    --The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005
    --The Terri Schaivo Incapacitated Protection Bill
    --The Welfare Reform Extension Act of 2005
    --The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005
    --Junk Fax Protection Act of 2005 (timely!)


Comments on posts older than 30 days are moderated because almost all of those comments are spam.