CHICAGO Congress consists
of a bunch of "babyish 3-year-olds in a sandbox," one steel
industry analyst said. "Everyone is willing to harm the economy
in order to make the other guy look bad."
The problem, if left unchecked,
could ultimately lop 0.7 percent off of U.S. gross domestic
product (GDP) growth, according to John Anton, steel analyst at
Lexington, Mass.-based IHS Global Insight Inc. "It has real
consequences," he said at the Platts 9th Annual Steel Markets
North America Conference in Chicago.
Saying that both political
parties were responsible for this "self-inflicted stupidity,"
the analyst called for "a plague on both their houses."
Anton wasnt alone in
citing Congress, the administration and the regulatory agencies
as obstacles to economic growth.
Steel Manufacturers Association
president Thomas Danjczek described the presidents
leadership on the regulatory front as "Obamageddon."
Meanwhile, "as our government
moves from crisis to crisis, it sucks the energy out of the
room," Eileen Bradner, senior director and counsel for federal
government affairs at Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor Corp, told
conference attendees. A Washington lobbyist for 32 years,
Bradner recalled when senators from opposite sides of the aisle
maintained friendships and socialized together, often with
"Now, if you move your family to
Washington, youve betrayed your constituents and
its used in an attack ad against you," she said.
Even GOP stalwart Sen. Orrin
Hatch (R., Utah) was friends with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D., Mass.),
delivering a eulogy for the New England lawmaker in 2009. "But
that worked against him in Utah," Bradner said.
And while Congress fails to work
together, important posts remain vacant. Litigation over recess
appointments to the National Labor Relations Board from two
years ago still lingers in the courts, she said.
But Bradner thinks the
congressional freeze will thaw if members are at all influenced
by continued public opinion polls showing that "Americans are
really sick of it," she said. House Speaker John Boehner let
two votes go to the floor without getting his own caucus on
board, and instead relied on minority Democratic votes.
And if Congress doesnt get
its act together on legislation, she said, President Obama has
repeatedly promised administrative action. He wants them to
pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution on climate change,
But Bradner conceded that she
doesnt expect Congress to pass anything related to
climate change in the near future. Rather, she expects
legislators to introduce bills attempting to slow down
Environmental Protection Agency rulings.