AS CONGRESS begins the few days it intends to work in Washington before the end of the year, it is important that it and the electorate keep a few matters in mind.
One of them is that all 535 members, including those who are retiring or who lost their seats and won't be returning for the next Congress in January, continue to be paid by taxpayers. Many of them are only in Washington from Tuesday morning to Thursday night anyway in what for them is a normal working week. They have also given themselves many holiday days between now and the end of the year, leaving only 14 days in session scheduled.
The elements that comprise the so-called fiscal cliff should be Congress' highest priority since it includes matters that touch directly on Americans' pocketbooks, not to mention the economic well-being and standing of the nation.
Another debt ceiling drama also approaches before the end of the year. The limit is now set at $16.4 trillion. The national debt currently stands at above $16.2 trillion. Congress will be tempted to kick this can farther down the road in yet another display of incompetence.
Members of Congress must address other critical matters before gathering around their holiday trees. One is the farm bill. It seems unimaginable that in a year when America's farmers across much of the country have been tormented by relentless drought that their legislators did not manage to address their problems before the elections. But that was the case.