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Now that voters want Congress to get real, it passes a make-believe bill to save the economy

The message in the internal memorandum that House Republican conference chairman J.C. Watts circulated among his G.O.P. colleagues last week was blunt: America is paying attention now, and it's time to get serious. G.O.P. polls show voters care less about what their parties stand for than whether they can make them feel safe. "Equally true is that Americans are going to be tough in their assessment of Republicans and Democrats alike, and they will be critical in their reviews," wrote Watts.

But if Americans are expecting their lawmakers to show a sense of purpose that matches the moment, the message doesn't...

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