A 'productive' session?

Tax policy, amnesty for some illegal aliens, a nuclear arms treaty with Russia, gays in the military, food safety, federal spending, the budget, unemployment benefits -- these are among the issues Congress sought to take up during its lame duck session this month.

A handful of these bills went nowhere, others passed. USA Today called the session "productive." Perhaps.

But is it really in the best interest of the American people to have our senators and representatives rush through significant and even historic legislation as they prepare to turn out the lights and flee town for the holidays? Is anybody really paying attention?

How many members of the House had the opportunity to read the $1.4 billion food safety bill? Was there time for adequate debate on the arms treaty with Russia, passed 71-26 in the Senate on Wednesday?

Yes, the lame-duck Congress was "productive" in the sense that various pieces of legislation were approved. But let's remember that most of these issues could have been -- and should have been -- addressed much sooner but were put on the back burner precisely because members of Congress were afraid to tackle them prior to the November elections.

And that's the sort of shenanigans that helps explain why public approval of the current Congress bottomed out at an abysmal 13 percent.