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The Progressive

Measuring Congress by the Numbers

Never have so few done so little for so many. But at last, they're gone – Congress has adjourned for the year.

And what a year it was! A few numbers sum up the sorry story, so let's review them. For example, 16. That's the number of days that a gaggle of tea party Republicans shut down our government by throwing an October hissy fit. Oh, add 24 billion to that – $24 billion is the economic loss America suffered from the tea partiers' shut-down stunt.

Speaking of stunts, check out the number of times the House GOP has voted to make the political point that it doesn't want Obamacare to work. It now totals 47 times.

Now here's a telling number: 239. That's how many paid days off our congress critters gave themselves in 2013. Yes, for two-thirds of the year, they were no-shows at their ornate workplace. Hey, stuff like shutting down government and casting meaningless votes is tiring, and you've gotta get your rest to keep up the pace.

And here's a big, angry number that our well-heeled lawmakers can't seem to see: 11 million. That's how many of our fellow Americans are jobless, some 4 million of whom have been out of work for more than 6 months. Yet, Congress went AWOL on its duty to respond to this raging jobs crisis. However, members did show up to slap America's hardest-hit workers. Just before taking off for their Christmas break, GOP lawmakers pushed a budget deal that killed an emergency benefit program for people who're mired in the misery of longterm unemployment. Yes, in the Season of Joy and Goodwill, Congress – Ho-Ho-Ho! – cut off this essential lifeline for 1.3 million workers and their families. Another 1.9 million will lose their benefits next year.

But, hey, who's counting? It's all just a bunch of numbers to Congress.

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Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow. Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.

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