In hostage situations someone threatens to harm others and sometimes themselves unless their demands are met by those in a position to do so. But the US congress has taken this to farcical levels by threatening such harm unless actions are taken that it already has the power, indeed the responsibility, to take on its own.
For example, one of the most basic tasks of congress is to formulate and pass a budget. But we have reached a stage of congressional dysfunction where they are unable to carry out this basic responsibility. So what does congress do? It threatens to hold a gun to its own head unless a budget is passed and so we had the fiscal cliff drama where congress said that unless they agreed on a budget, automatic cuts that they did not like to see would go into effect. In other words, they needed to create a threat of harm to their own priorities in order to get them to take any action. To no one’s surprise, that threat failed when they decided to postpone the original fiscal cliff deadline of December 31, 2012 by a couple of months.
Now we have yet another proposal where they threaten to withhold the salaries of all members of either body of congress (the house of representatives and the senate) if that body does not pass a budget. Again, since they are pointing the gun to their own head and making demands of themselves, do they really expect us to believe they will pull the trigger? Is it any wonder that polls show that the public views congress in less esteem than cockroaches?