I appreciate that you made the distinction between different types of legislation. We could sit here and rename post offices all day, every day and I don’t think too many Americans would think Congress was doing its job well.
However, I also think it’s important to note that “productive” is a relative term. A small government conservative or a libertarian might argue that the Congress that legislates least, governs best. In other words, just because we aren’t passing legislation doesn’t mean we aren’t being productive.
For example, the Administration has had [to] go around Congress in an attempt to put its environmental agenda in place (admittedly, that is something it probably would have had to do even with Democratic majorities in both chambers, but they have more political cover going around a Republican controlled House). That puts those policies on much rockier legal standing, assuming they can be implemented solely through the regulatory side at all. That’s a good thing if you disagree with those environmental policies and that outcome is the direct result of Congressional inaction.
Another example is that no further stimulus bills have passed since Republicans took over the House. It’s hard to argue a negative, but there are a few of us who think the House holding the line against some of the things the Administration and their Democrat[ic] allies on the Hill want to do is a good and productive use of Congressional time, albeit one without a traditional legislative list of “accomplishments” to point to.