The Wall Street Journal, on January 26, analyzed the Obama administration’s policies and stated that it is not that they haven’t accomplished much due to obstruction, but rather that they have accomplished almost everything and it did not work. Obama and Speaker Pelosi, with the largest Democratic majorities in the Congress since the 1970s, orchestrated the passage of the failed Stimulus, Obamacare, the auto bailout, Dodd-Frank, cash for clunkers, TARP, and housing tax credits. They accomplished a new era of big government liberal spending, and it saddled the nation with more debt, a larger annual budget deficit, and increased unemployment.
Now with a Republican majority in the House and a diminished Democratic majority in the Senate, the President’s agenda is virtually stalled. Gridlock has occurred, and this is a good thing. With 2012 in full swing, the President bashes a “do-nothing, obstructionist” House Republican majority that he feels is hurting American jobs and the middle class. I guess he didn’t get the message from small business owners that said he is the problem. In a recent Gallup poll, nearly half of them stated Obamacare as over-regulatory and job killing. With the failures of neo-Keynesian economics, Republicans have stated they will not be complicit in saddling the next generation with more debt. In keeping with that pledge, House Republicans have passed twenty-eight job-creating bills, which the Democratic controlled Senate has tabled. This back and forth is why the president is adamant in calling Washington broken.
So, is Washington broken? If you look at our constitutional history, the so-called gridlock that has paralyzed the Congress is what our Founders envisioned. Safety, not efficiency, was the overriding theme during the Constitutional Convention of 1787. It was a debate on which of the proposed plans best kept Americans safe from a usurpatory government. The system of checks and balances are indicative to this theme of safety. In doing so, we created three branches of government (including a bicameral legislature) and various legislative procedures to ensure that change was slow. A difficult amendment process that made sure the Constitution retained its ability to constrain changes to our society. In the words of George Will, “gridlock is not an American problem, it is an American achievement.” He cites the filibuster, judicial review, veto, veto override, and supermajorities as being created to ensure gridlock, as it is their only purpose.
Partisanship and gridlock are good things that convey the liberal and conservative argument to the American people. We conservatives pride ourselves in supporting limited government and saying no to more bailouts, no to more crushing debt, and no to more big government spending. The mechanisms to ensure gridlock make sure our voices are heard. It creates a stark contrast between the two parties, which have deep ideological views on how government should function and its purpose in society. If there is one thing that I can say about politics, its that bipartisanship is overrated.
Yet, even with the partisan bickering, the partial FAA shutdown last summer ended, the debt ceiling was increased, free trade agreements with Colombia and South Korea have passed, and a payroll tax cut is about to be extended. On top of what the president has done in the past three years, especially with tragic passage of Obamacare, it is hard to argue that gridlock has truly paralyzed government.
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