Americans Scorn Do-Nothing Congress

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Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh shook things up in Washington this week, saying he wants out. He said he doesn't like Congress.

Polls show most Americans don't either, because as CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes reports, it can't seem to get anything done.

Bayh isn't the first lawmaker this year to say he doesn't want to work in Washington anymore because Washington doesn't work.

"Congress is not operating as it should," Bayh said in announcing his retirement. "There is too much partisanship. The people's business is not getting done."

To see how stalled the Senate has become, just look at the numbers. Senate Democrats voted along straight party lines an average of 91 percent of the time last year. That's a record high.

Republicans threatened filibusters to block legislation 100 times, far outstripping their previous high of 62.

"That was all to say no because they believe saying no to Barack Obama and to this Congress is a way for them to get elected to office," said Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. "I think the American people aren't going to accept that."

That obstructionist image has begun to stick.

According to a recent CBS News poll, only 29 percent of Americans think the GOP is trying to work with the president, while 62 percent think Mr. Obama is reaching across the aisle.

Yet that doesn't appear to be hurting the GOP's electoral chances. Thirty-six of the Senate's 100 seats are up for grabs in November. Of those, 11 are considered competitive races in which the seat could change hands and eight of those 11 vulnerable seats are currently held by Democrats.

"The point is Democrats are in power, they can't get anything done," said CBS News political analyst Marc Ambinder. "They can complain that, well it's not our fault, but the American people are going to look at them and say, 'I don't care!'"

The Senate has more trouble passing major legislation than the House. Health care barely passed. Energy legislation never passed, even when Democrats had a supermajority which meant they had enough votes to overcome a filibuster.

  • Nancy Cordes
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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' chief White House correspondent.