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Jim Jaffe Headshot

Congress Rocks

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Congress is moving at a pace that can fairly be characterized as astonishingly fast to slash the number of Americans who lack health insurance by more than half.

And while it is hardly surprising those who don't want change warn that our legislators aren't moving fast enough, it is difficult to understand critics from the other side who say progress is coming too slowly.

They apparently live in a world of instant gratification where major problems are resolved between breakfast and lunch, leaving a gap for the cable news networks that can only be filled by providing comprehensive coverage of runaway balloons.

Let's take a look at the schedule. If we can reform the health insurance system and respond to global warming while nursing the economy back to health and changing the rules to prevent a recurrence, the new Congress elected in 2010 should be able to coast or spend all its time debating major issues of endless interest ranging from campaign finance reform to same-sex marriage and abortion policy.

But why can't they do better?

The leadership is criticized for allowing the process to slip to a point where decisions anticipated by Independence Day aren't made until Labor Day (using holidays to measure Congressional progress is an old tradition) or worse. Analysts slip into hysteria as they hyperventilate about another failed Congress in response to reports that the job may not get done this year.

We may have to wait until the earlier months of 2010 before we have a bill, a delay that apparently impose a price too painful to imagine, let alone define.

The reality is that the folks on Capitol Hill, especially the Democrats, are doing a fine job as they respond responsively to a complex problem. That doesn't shield them from the criticism that comes with the job. Congress is an institution we love to feel superior to. The fact that they're about to expand health insurance to cover millions who could use it is hardly adequate to change that attitude.