CONGRESSIONAL CHAOS

If Congress were determined to supply fuel for the critics of democratic government, it could hardly do so more efficiently than by its present conduct. After wasting valuable time over fruitless squabbles about Senator Moses, it now proceeded to lose its head over the moratorium. The absurd spectacle is presented of a Democratic congressman defending the President from reckless threats of impeachment, uttered by a Republican. Meanwhile preparations for relief measures during the winter go by the board. It is doubtful if the spectacle enhances the prestige of "the greatest legislative body since the Roman Senate." Appeals to the efficiency of dictatorships, though superficial, indicate a pressing need for governmental reform.

There is an unfortunate wealth of evidence that the whole legislative machinery is hopelessly involved. An acute observer has pointed out that many members lost track of world affairs between the sessions of Congress and consequently at the beginning of every new term are at sea about the issues before them. In the present case the leaders of Congress definitely gave their consent before the President declared the moratorium. Any way, the choice was simply between remitting payments willingly or having them defaulted. Instead of false regard for its own dignity, congress ought to face the living issue. At present its dilateriness and petty bickerings conceal the President's failure to prepare for the coming crisis.

The central problem is that of closer cooperation between the executive and legislative branches. If Congress had dealt with the moratorium immediately after it was proclaimed, the desk would now be clear for more pressing business. It may be said that it is not in the power of Congress to convene itself. But in view of the traditional reluctance of Presidents to calling special sessions, the decision ought not to be left to them. Convocation should be the automatic result of any measure demanding the approval of Congress. Such an arrangement would at least partly relieve a grave defect in our government.