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40 things the House could have done while it was busy repealing Obamacare

Nothing is more fun than pretending to vanquish health care reform. But maybe it's time Congress tried to accomplish something else. Anything else.
/ Source: MSNBC TV

Nothing is more fun than pretending to vanquish health care reform. But maybe it's time Congress tried to accomplish something else. Anything else.

U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) makes his way to a House GOP caucus meeting, on Capitol Hill, July 9, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

What can you say about a U.S. House of Representatives that devotes the last day before summer recess to a futile exercise it has already performed 39 times?

We’re talking, of course, about today’s 232-185 vote to roll back the Affordable Care Act, this time by prohibiting the IRS from carrying out any of its designated roles.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor claimed (falsely) that the health care law gives the IRS “access to the American people’s protected health care information,” and that the “Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act of 2013” will somehow safeguard our medical privacy.

The House bill has zero chance of becoming law—its passage was largely an exercise in what Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas might call “self-pleasuring.” But imagine what these dogged legislators could accomplish if they took 40 votes on 40 issues instead of one! Here’s a list of 39 chores worth returning to someday. What’s number 40? Please tweet your nomination, using #40things.

  1. Pass the American Jobs Act
  2. Raise the minimum wage
  3. Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act
  4. Pass a Responsible Homeowner Refinancing Act
  5. Create an infrastructure bank
  6. Repeal tax breaks for outsourcing jobs
  7. Create tax incentives for insourcing jobs
  8. Update and strengthen the Voting Rights Act
  9. Revive the 2010 DISCLOSE Act to shed light on corporate money in politics
  10. Pass a Supreme Court ethics act
  11. Authorize states to restrict out-of-state campaign contributions
  12. Institute a carbon tax to address climate change
  13. Reduce tax breaks for oil companies
  14. Increase support for sustainable clean energy
  15. Pass an immigration bill
  16. Ban assault weapons
  17. Institute universal background checks for gun sales
  18. Institute universal pre-K education
  19. Pass a paid parental leave act
  20. Hold a conference with the Senate to pass a federal budget
  21. Revive domestic safety-net programs shredded by sequestration
  22. Restore the 1.6 million jobs being lost to sequestration
  23. Restore international development aid lost to sequestration
  24. Restore sequestration cuts to Medicare’s fraud-control program
  25. Renovate the U.S. Postal Service
  26. Restore the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka food stamps)
  27. Restrict junk food advertising to children
  28. Cut subsidies to agribusiness
  29. Pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act
  30. Ban racial profiling by police departments
  31. Reform drug laws to end mass incarceration
  32. Hold open hearings on the NSA’s XKeyscore program
  33. Hold open hearings on the NSA’s PRISM program
  34. Restrict and regulate drone assassinations
  35. End restrictions on the transfer of cleared prisoners from Guantanamo
  36. Repeal the Hyde amendment and restore Medicaid funding for abortion
  37. Remove military sexual assault proceedings from the military chain of command
  38. Address the backlog on VA benefits
  39. Expand the Affordable Care Act to cover all legal U.S. residents

House repealed #Obamacare for 40th time tdy! Here are 39 things they could’ve done: http://t.co/LhUNOz8Qu7. Pls tweet me 1 more w/ #40things— Geoffrey Cowley (@geoffreycowley) August 2, 2013