By CNN's Jack Cafferty:
When we wake up Wednesday morning - or whenever this race is eventually decided - it might not matter all that much whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney is the next president.
Here's why: It's expected Congress will remain divided in the next session with Democrats in control of the Senate and Republicans in control of the House of Representatives.
And we all know how productive our federal government has been the past two years with a divided Congress. Critical issues have gone ignored. They include, but are not limited to, our soaring national deficits, a $16 trillion plus national debt and the looming fiscal cliff.
Our lawmakers do nothing about the really important issues and instead focus on symbolic votes, meaningless hearings and name-calling of the opposite party. And it's highly likely we can expect more of the same for the next two years.
Experts are calling 2012 a "status quo" election with most incumbents expected to win new terms. That's really a shame. What have they done to deserve another term?
In the House, Republicans now hold a 242-193 majority and Democrats are not expected to win nearly enough new seats to take control of the chamber.
In the Senate, some Democrats say the worst-case scenario is maintaining their current 53-47 margin.
But if Americans are frustrated with the dysfunction they'll likely see under Obama or Romney come January, we have no one to blame but ourselves for re-electing the same people over and over again.
Here’s my question to you: How much does it matter who the president is if Congress remains divided?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
They're at it again.
After a five-week vacation, Congress is back to doing nothing.
Lawmakers are back on the Hill - although most of them aren't really there. They're worried about Election Day, which is less than two months away.
If it's at all possible for the atmosphere in Washington to get any more partisan, now is the time.
And while the country is knee-deep in serious problems, Congress is focusing on politics. What else is new?
The only must-pass measure before them is a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government and avoid a government shutdown.
Aside from that, look for lots of meaningless hearings and votes on measures that both sides know won't pass: The Republicans want to roll back automatic defense cuts and repeal Obamacare. The Democrats want to vote on a jobs bill with no Republican support.
Also, expect a lot of these votes to echo themes we're hearing on the campaign trail from Messrs. Obama and Romney.
Pathetic is what they are. All this as the U.S. hangs off the edge of that fiscal cliff.
If Congress chooses to do nothing about the deep automatic spending cuts and the expiring Bush tax cuts coming soon, economists warn we likely will be headed for another recession.
And there's loads of other unfinished business too - like a farm bill, a veterans jobs bill, and a housing bill.
Urgent matters, to which the response is - ready? The Senate might leave town again for another seven-week recess as soon as September 21.
But be sure to vote to re-elect the incumbents in your state or congressional district, because they're doing such a great job.
Here’s my question to you: Why is Congress so good at kicking the can down the road?
From CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Only one in ten Americans thinks Congress is doing a good job.
With numbers like these... it's hard to imagine how any of our lawmakers will get re-elected in November. But sadly many of them will.
According to a new Gallup poll, Congress gets a 10% approval rating, which ties its all-time low for the past 4 decades.
83% disapprove of Congress.
What's more, Congress' approval rating is down among all political groups... at 9% for Democrats, 11% for independents and 10% for Republicans.
While experts say it's hard to pinpoint exactly why Americans are so negative about Congress, the answer is probably "everything."
There's the economy... including the skyrocketing national debt, the rapidly approaching fiscal cliff, the soon-to-expire Bush tax cuts and unemployment topping 8% for the last 42 months in a row.
There is no longer any compromise in Congress. Hyper-partisanship means all Congress does is bicker while accomplishing nothing.
Currently Congress has decided to reward itself with another 5-week vacation, despite all of these problems they're refusing to address.
The country is on the road to ruin, and Congress bears much of the responsibility.
Yet chances are if you check back in after the election, many of these same lawmakers will be right back in Washington.
Why do we keep doing this to ourselves? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.
Here's my question to you: Why won't Americans vote Congress out of office?
Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 5 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.
And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
Congress is on a five-week vacation. They work so hard. The fact is Congress has accomplished next to nothing, but they think they deserve a five-week break.
Millions of Americans are unemployed, and the average American worker only gets 13 paid days off the whole year. But these clowns think they deserve yet another vacation. It's disgraceful.
Meanwhile, the country's problems, which they left behind in Washington, are serious and many:
It's called the "fiscal cliff" for a reason. Unaddressed, these changes will be painful and dramatic. Congress has done nothing. This list still goes on:
This Congress is one of the least productive in recent history - and you can thank a toxic, hyperpartisan atmosphere plus election year politicking
It's unlikely any of these things will be addressed until after the election is over. The American people deserve better than this, but we won't get it if we keep vote these same people into office.
On November 6, think "out-cumbent."
Here’s my question to you: Why would Congress take a five-week vacation with all the problems facing the country?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
President Obama and Congress get a big fat "D" when it comes to their handling of the economy.
CNNMoney asked 20 economists to grade our leaders, and both the president and Congress received "D" averages.
It's hard to imagine any other profession where you could perform at this level and keep your job.
These experts say Congress is more interested in scoring political points than in helping the economy. They're also worried about the so-called fiscal cliff and the looming disaster if Congress can't get its act together.
But Congress doesn't seem too worried about any of this. Bloomberg news reports that congressional leaders may delay the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts until March. These cuts are scheduled to start in January.
At the same time they might temporarily extend income tax cuts and other tax breaks.
In other words, kick the can down the road some more without making any serious choices. That "D" grade is looking a little generous.
Meanwhile, ordinary Americans continue to suffer under the weak economy.
A new survey shows 28% of Americans have no emergency savings. Nothing. Zero.
The general rule of thumb is to have enough savings to cover at least six months of expenses. Only one in four people have that.
And just last week Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said he expects the unemployment rate to remain above 8% through the end of the year.
The real absurdity is Congress and the president will look at you with a straight face and tell you how they think they deserve to be re-elected.
Here’s my question to you: Economists give the president and Congress a "D" on the economy. How would you grade them?
Here's all you need to know about how worthless Congress is:
Of the thousands of measures introduced in the current Congress - only 132 passed.
And about 1 in 5 of those was to approve official names for post offices.
This country is circling the drain when it comes to runaway government spending and deficits - and 20% of the bills that got through Congress were to name post offices.
What's more: a CNN analysis of Congressional records shows that the current Congress has worked just as many days as previous Congresses - they just have a lot less to show for it.
This gridlock means that the important things that need doing are in limbo. We haven't had a budget in forever. There has been no action on the fiscal cliff that is fast approaching at the end of the year. The debt ceiling is going to have to be raised. The national debt and deficits are out of control. And they spend their time naming post offices.
Experts say it hasn't always been this way. They call the 111th Congress "exceedingly productive." That was when the Democrats passed Obamacare.
Of course that was also the spark that started the fire that was the tea party. Republicans swept into power in the house in 2010 - promising to repeal health care reform and crack down on government waste and abuse.
But what they've mostly done is slow the pace of government and turned this Congress into one of the least productive in modern history.
Congress still has 6 months left to redeem themselves. But don't count on it.
Between vacation time and campaigning for re-election, it's unlikely they'll deal with any of the critical issues facing the U.S. today.
Here’s my question to you: One in five measures passed by the current Congress approved post office names. How equipped are lawmakers to deal with our problems?
The next Congress will be one of the least experienced in decades.
And it might even be more polarized than the current Congress, if that's possible.
Politico reports that the House and Senate will be filled with "rookies and sophomores unbound by the institution's traditions" who have "virtually no experience doing serious legislative work."
It will be hard to tell them apart from the current Congress.
Here's the deal: the 2010 elections brought in a record number of new lawmakers, mostly Republican.
Then there were dozens of retirements in 2012, plus the expected election turnover in November.
All this means the new Congress could have more than 155 members with fewer than four years experience.
Some suggest this is a good thing, that it's time to "throw the bums out" and that the turnover will bring fresh blood into a growingly unpopular institution.
And for good reason. The current Congress is more partisan and less willing to compromise than ever. Plus it could be argued a lot of them don't know what they're doing.
One Democratic congressmen tells Politico, "There are chairmen of subcommittees who don't know which end of the gavel to use, much less how to get a bill through Congress."
As the United States heads for that "fiscal cliff" next year, the makeup of the Congress that will be elected in November is very much a wildcard. We're running out of room to either make mistakes or do nothing.
House Speaker John Boehner insists all these fresh faces have had a positive impact, bringing "energy, enthusiasm and real-world experience" to Washington.
But what have they done for us lately? Nothing. And it might get worse.
Here’s my question to you: What does it mean if the next Congress is one of the least experienced in decades?
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Congress won't do anything to fix the economy - that's the disturbing result of a CNN Money survey of economists.
Despite the huge issues on the horizon - a $15 trillion dollar debt, $1 trillion annual deficits, jobs, taxes - we can once again expect our Congress to do nothing.
Although the economists polled in this survey have lots of ideas about how to jump-start the U.S. economy, they don't expect Congress to act on any of it in the near future.
One economist put it this way: Congress will act "two weeks after a sudden freeze in Hell."
These experts are most worried about a weakening in economic readings - especially job growth.
So what would help? They'd like Congress to pass comprehensive tax reform, which would likely lower tax rates for corporations and individuals while eliminating many deductions and loopholes.
Most of these economists also support some extension of the Bush tax cuts and an extension of the partial payroll tax holiday.
The survey also found 40% of these economists want Congress to repeal Obamacare and about a quarter support the repeal of the Dodd-Frank financial services reform legislation.
Some of them believe the economy will be best off if Congress does as little as possible.
Looks like they'll probably get their wish.
With lawmakers in re-election mode we can't expect much action on the economy - or anything else for that matter. Pathetic.
As if to prove this point - late yesterday Senate Democrats canceled the votes on next year's budget. This would be the third year in a row that Congress fails to produce a budget, which is their job. Like we said, pathetic.
Here’s my question to you: If Congress won't fix the economy, what will it take?
Pity our poor Congress.
With many members of Congress calling it quits this year - some say it's because the job just sucks.
Politico reports that lawmakers young and old are leaving public service for the private sector because "the thrill is gone."
They say it's just too hard to get things done with the gridlock in Washington.
Republican Senator Olympia Snowe made a splash with news of her retirement - highlighting the "dysfunction and political polarization" of the Senate.
Democratic Congressman Barney Frank has said he was frustrated because the public no longer tolerates deal making.
Retiring four-term Oklahoma Democrat Congressman Dan Boren tells Politico, "I'm used to being a player. You want to get things done for your constituents. If you can't ever become speaker or a committee chairman, why are you doing it?"
For some lifers the job just isn't as prestigious as it used to be - plus these days nobody likes them much.
They can't earmark money for constituents, they need to maintain residences in two cities, fundraising is a headache, and a lot of perks have disappeared thanks to ethics rules. Awww…
Oh - and their pay has been frozen for 3 years - at $174,000.
Not quite a hardship for millions of Americans dealing with extended high unemployment, soaring gas prices and plummeting home values.
Other lawmakers cite the constant media presence in the era of blogs, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. They worry about having any little thing they do or say splashed on the Internet.
Here’s my question to you: Would you want to be a member of Congress? Some of them say the job sucks.
The U.S. is on a collision course with financial disaster.
The Congressional budget office is out with a grim report suggesting the deficit for 2012 will top $1 trillion for the fourth year in a row.
The CBO also gives a worst-case scenario in which Congress extends all the current Bush-era tax cuts and undoes the super committee's automatic spending cuts. More on that in a minute.
If those two things happen - which is entirely possible in an election year - the U.S. could add another $4.7 trillion to the national debt over the next five years.
Keep in mind we're already $15 trillion in debt. That means we could be looking at a $20 trillion national debt by 2017, and some think even this is a rosy scenario.
Back to the not-so-super committee - remember when the 12 members couldn't come to an agreement on deficit spending cuts? Well that set into motion an automatic $1.2 trillion dollars in cuts.
Not so fast. Congress is busy trying to find a way to undo those spending cuts.
Politico reports that Republicans and a handful of Democrats have vowed to unravel these cuts - which would hit defense and domestic programs equally next January.
There are currently several measures floating around Capitol Hill aimed at doing just that.
President Obama has said he will veto any measure to override the automatic spending cuts unless Congress can give him a "balanced" plan to cut the deficit.
It's really quite sad. Our children's future is being thrown in the garbage so the Washington politicians can continue to steal the public's money. And no one seems too interested in stopping the madness - at least not during an election year. Re-election always Trumps the general welfare these days.
Here’s my question to you: Should Congress undo the super committee's automatic spending cuts?
Jack Cafferty sounds off hourly on the Situation Room on the stories crossing his radar. Now, you can check in with Jack online to see what he's thinking and weigh in with your own comments online and on TV.
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