You can look at the above graph one of two ways:
1 - That Congress is shying away from big government. By NOT passing any bills, Congress is not creating more complex bureaucratic red tape, thus allowing more economic and social freedom in America. This is the current Republican attitude, and one that was voiced by Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), when he said in July that we should judge Congress by how many laws it repeals, not passes.
2- Or you can see this graph as the complete and utter breakdown of American governing. Nothing is getting done.
By August of this year, just 22 bills had been passed by Congress and sent to President Barack Obama for his signature. That’s a little less than the 28 passed by August in the previous Congress, and a pretty poor output compared to earlier sessions.
But does output even matter?
Americans seem to think so. They want Congress to get things done, not get things undone. Seventy-eight percent of Americans surveyed have said that they disapproved of the job Congress was doing, while only 15% said that they approved. In October 2013, during the government shutdown, this slipped to ten percent approval according to several polls.
Meanwhile, the unfavorable rating of the Tea Party — the conservative sect of Congress that many consider to be the root of inefficiency — has doubled since 2010.
The Washington Post's Ezra Klein has called this Congress a "train wreck." But is this Congress just responding to the will of American opinion? The Tea Party claims it is trying to end the out-of-control spending of government, and create a more accountable government. This is in-line with the goals of many Americans. Earlier this year Americans' concerns about the federal budget deficit rose high enough in January to knock unemployment out of the top two slots on Gallup's "most important problem" list for the first time since 2009.
Maybe what the Tea Party is doing is just reactionary. Americans wanted this all along.
Regardless if you accept view No. 1 or view No. 2, the graph above perfectly sums up the character of America's current governing body. This is the Congress we've created. The next election will show if Americans have the political equivalent of buyer's remorse.