The bruising, 16-day government shutdown has only just passed; yet D.C. is already realizing that the next battle will be equally difficult. The current resolution only solves our fiscal issues through January, when a comprehensive solution needs to be achieved to avoid a second shutdown. Considering the nature of the most recent budget battle, I don’t foresee the next debate being any less contentious.
Alan Greenspan told the Wall Street Journal that, in his opinion, the divisions on Capitol Hill are the deepest they’ve been since the Civil War. This is a comment I’ve made repeatedly. In fact, I see no solution until faces change in D.C.
Meanwhile, America’s citizens are not nearly as divided as the governing elite. Politicians have become so partisan that the country’s welfare is seriously being affected. Unfortunately, I only see it getting worse. Here are five reasons why.
- For a country’s government to function, there must be back-and-forth between its leaders. Barack Obama’s stance that he won’t negotiate with Republicans is undeniably counterproductive. You can’t solve problems if you won’t talk.
- Media viewers are now organized into silos of competing voices. Liberals only watch MSNBC and CNN. Conservatives only watch Fox News. The coverage distorts reality for both groups. To understand what others really think, you have to listen to and engage their ideas.
- The leadership of both the Senate and House has become so rigid that competing ideas don’t get a hearing in the opposing chamber. Democrat ideas are dead on arrival in the House of Representatives. Republican ideas are killed in the crib by Senator Harry Reid, and they never get a vote in the Senate.
- There used to be a procedure for funding the government called the “regular order.” In the regular order, every agency’s budget was approved one by one, allowing each budget and agency to stand on its own. The continuing resolution (or CR) is a tool used to protect unpopular programs from the budget knife – and it’s been abused by leadership.
- Obama and Bush both have abused the power of the executive branch and ignored the balance of powers established by the U.S. Constitution. To stop lurching from crisis to crisis, the branches must respect one another. When Obama says to Congress that he’ll just pass a law by executive order, he’s pouring gasoline on an already raging fire.
As I said before, I don’t think these warring factions are capable of responsibly governing the country. Without a doubt, the reason the job situation is so miserable for many Americans is Obama’s insistence on implementing Obamacare. Economists agree that the law is killing jobs and lowering the total number of hours worked for hundreds of thousands of Americans. Indeed, a poll by the National Association of Business Economics shows that many businesses are holding back from hiring, and 15% of service sector firms plan to shift to more part-time workers due to Obamacare.
But rather than allow any type of accommodation, Obama refuses to talk about how the situation could be improved. For this reason alone, I’m pessimistic as long as he remains in office. And some Republicans are going a step further. Many are now openly speculating that Obama wants to lure them into as many shutdowns as possible in the next year as part of his midterm election strategy. By not negotiating and choosing to make every encounter toxic, he greatly enhances the likelihood of another shutdown.
Republicans should swallow hard and attempt to get a budget deal in January that settles the fight until after the next election. Then, they should campaign aggressively and take control of the U.S. Senate. With control of the Senate, Republicans could make real strides toward balancing the budget and repealing Obamacare.
Obama may be in office until 2016, but Harry Reid could lose control of the Senate as early as a year from now. Let’s hope he does. Until we see some new faces in Washington, no real resolution will come from such a toxic environment.
This commentary originally appeared at CapitolHillDaily.com and is reprinted here with permission.