All too often folks on the Hill who don’t agree with the Liberal agenda are cast as the “Party of No”. As if all they wanna do is stall legislation and attack for pure political points. Then we’re told that Washington is broken.
“Washington right now is broken,” Vice President Joe Biden told “Early Show” co-anchor Harry Smith. “I don’t ever recall a time in my career where, to get anything done, you needed a supermajority – 60 out of 100 senators.”
“I’ve never seen it this dysfunctional,” added Biden.
I’m not sure that it really IS broken; it may be working exactly as planned. Serious. Obama was elected, as well as the rest of the Democrats, because of the fact that folks were tired of Bush and the right wing machine. They were NOT elected because the country wanted to run to the Left. I never did understand how the Democrats could claim that something was broken just because they couldn’t get thier way. Seems I have some support:
We disagree. Washington has its faults, some of which could easily be fixed. But much of the current fuss forgets the purpose of American government; and it lets current politicians (Mr Obama in particular) off the hook.
America’s political structure was designed to make legislation at the federal level difficult, not easy. Its founders believed that a country the size of America is best governed locally, not nationally. True to this picture, several states have pushed forward with health-care reform. The Senate, much ridiculed for antique practices like the filibuster and the cloture vote, was expressly designed as a “cooling” chamber, where bills might indeed die unless they commanded broad support.
Broad support from the voters is something that both the health bill and the cap-and-trade bill clearly lack. Democrats could have a health bill tomorrow if the House passed the Senate version. Mr Obama could pass a lot of green regulation by executive order. It is not so much that America is ungovernable, as that Mr Obama has done a lousy job of winning over Republicans and independents to the causes he favours. If, instead of handing over health care to his party’s left wing, he had lived up to his promise to be a bipartisan president and courted conservatives by offering, say, reform of the tort system, he might have got health care through; by giving ground on nuclear power, he may now stand a chance of getting a climate bill. Once Mr Clinton learned the advantages of co-operating with the Republicans, the country was governed better.
The way the Government is set up? On purpose. It’s because we don’t want things to go crazy with the whim of a single election. We WANT broad support. It’s a feature.
Nor is it the case that Congress has stymied the whole of Mr Obama’s agenda. On most fronts the president has so far had his way. This applies not only to the usual presidential preserve of foreign affairs—Mr Obama has withdrawn troops from Iraq and, controversially, sent more to Afghanistan—but to domestic policy as well.
Norman Ornstein is a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute and the co-author of a book (“The Broken Branch”) that laments the decline of Congress. So it is striking that he of all people argued in the Washington Post recently that the present Congress is set to be “one of the most productive” since the momentous 89th Congress of 1965-66, during which Lyndon Johnson pushed through the scores of bills that created his “great society”.
We’re not broken. Obama just isn’t gettin’ his way.