Members of Congress aren't content to simply accomplish the business at hand. They have to live life on the edge, like the adrenaline junkies from -- appropriately enough -- those "Jackass" movies.
Almost a year ago, it was the nation's credit rating hanging in the balance as Republicans and Democrats fought over the previously non-controversial matter of raising the debt ceiling. Failure to do so by Aug. 2 would have caused the country to default on its debts.
Despite a last-minute deal, one agency did, in fact, lower America's rating from a sterling AAA to AA.
Then, before the scorched earth had a chance to cool, these elected officials took a month-long vacation -- leaving behind the unresolved matter of extending the funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, of all things.
The lack of action caused 4,000 FAA employees to be furloughed and idled some 70,000 people working on more than 200 airport construction projects. And when the FAA lost its operating authority, it also lost its ability to collect taxes on airline ticket sales -- costing the country $30 million a day in lost revenue for the two weeks the stalemate lasted.
Last fall the two sides squared off again, this time over extending the payroll tax cuts that were set to expire at the end of the year. Without an extension, millions of working-class Americans would have been hit with higher taxes in a shaky economy.
Again, Congress took it right to the deadline before agreeing to a two-month extension in December 2011.
The fight -- and public backlash -- still fresh in their minds, the members in February finally passed an extension for the remainder of the year.
One would think they'd have learned something by then -- or at least feared the wrath of furious constituents in an election year.
But here we are again, with Republicans and Democrats locked in a stalemate over preserving low interest rates on college students' loans. Subsidized Stafford loans for low- and middle-income students will automatically jump from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent -- affecting about 7.4 million undergraduates -- without action.
As in the previous instances, both sides claim to want the same thing, but differ -- widely -- on how to accomplish it.
In the case of the student loan rates, Democrats want to pay for the extension by taxing stockholders in some privately owned corporations and professional practices, while Republicans want to cover the costs by raiding funding for President Obama's 2010 health care overhaul.
With the GOP in control of the House and the Dems controlling the Senate, both sides know compromise is necessary to pass a bill by the deadline.
Yet both sides certainly must realize their plans are non-starters for the other.
What we have is partisan posturing that places additional stress on millions of students and their families worried about affording a college education.
It would be political suicide to allow the interest rates to double, and we're optimistic our elected representatives will reach some sort of compromise -- probably at the last minute.
But we're getting extremely weary of regularly being led to the cliff's edge.