Something struck me while reading a post on over at Teagan Goddard’s Political Wire. After talking about how negotiations between the White House and congressional leaders had broken down, Goddard commented that it wasn’t so much surprising that the talks broke down, but more that so many thought a significant compromise deal “was even possible”.
How sad is it that the American people’s supposed representatives that we’ve sent to represent us in Congress are so out of touch with reality that they can’t even come together to make any sort of meaningful compromise when faced with big, complicated issues? They seem increasing, and mistakenly, convinced that they should either get almost everything they want or just do everything they can to stop anything from happening.
It’s as if the two major parties are teenagers, in a tussle with each other over whose turn it is to do some chore. These kids have become so unruly that the American people (parent A) just plain don’t know what to do with them anymore, and begins to grow farther and farther apart (more people each year break with them and go independent).
President Obama (parent B) just doesn’t want to get involved, like a typical workaholic parent, and by the time he notices the problem isn’t being resolved, it’s long past the time when the issue could have been fixed easier (like six months ago when it wasn’t election season, and there was bipartisan momentum behind the Fiscal Commission’s recommendations).
The problem is… this chore is averting fiscal catastrophe. President Obama appears to have failed at pushing for a bigger $4 trillion deal, which had a lot in common with the Fiscal Commission’s report. Had he pushed for it during the lame duck session, it would have likely passed or at least had a much better chance than now.
But the Devil is in the details, and Obama made a devilish move – ensuring the Fiscal Commission’s recommendations would not make it to the floor for debate by requiring far more than a supermajority of the commission members support for their recommendations to be sent to the House for debate.
Given how one of the spoiled brats involved in this fight has learned that it can get what it wants by storming around and otherwise not getting along, the Republicans have upped their ante with being the party of no.
They want everything their way, or they’re going to stomp back to their room. No new revenues or they’ll just let the country default, go back into recession, and then try to convince people back home that it was somehow everyone else’s fault but them, even though they’re just as responsible for getting our country into this fiscal hole as the Democrats are.
The other spoiled brat happens to be closer to parent B, enabling Obama to twist their arms enough to seem to fall in line, and the result is very little progress happens and the American people suffer.
If either party wanted enough votes to pass legislation without any votes from the other side, they could do so if they went back to being a big tent party again, welcome to both the right or left and centrists. Without doing that, all we’ll see is majorities swinging back and forth, and the few pieces of major partisan legislation that passes will be on shaky ground or be overturned, resulting in never-ending instability that does noone any good.