<b>Congress under pressure</b>

EDITOR: It's an age-old tradition. Kids writing term papers or tackling other long-term assignments tell their parents, "I work better under pressure." Those students wait until the last minute to complete virtually overnight what should have taken weeks, sometimes months. While the urgency of the time crunch provides laser-like focus, it doesn't lay the foundation for one's best work. Of course, some students learn this lesson the hard way. Parents hold them accountable.

And so we watched Congress convene one day before the budget deal deadline. They work better under pressure. We know this won't be their best work, which aspires to a low standard in the best of times. It's a shame that our representatives — all of them — haven't been working for the American public. They have frittered away the 16 months allotted to devise long-term solutions to the fiscal issues we face. They have bickered, argued and fretted publicly. Now, they'll turn in their hastily completed assignment and congratulate themselves for doing great work under the pressure of a short deadline. Shame on us for not holding them accountable.