One party is to blame for gridlock

I was nodding my head in complete agreement as I read Court Rosen’s commentary in this morning’s Roanoke Times. He was exactly right when he wrote about the fact that Congress, which was born in a Great Compromise, now seems incapable of passing “meaningful laws that provide stability to our economy.”

But then I got to this paragraph, and Rosen lost me completely:

Washington is broken. We must not fool ourselves into thinking it is one party or the other — the only party that is winning is self-interest. Glad-handing, fundraising and photo-ops do not make for a good Congress. Hard work, commitment to advancing the interests of our country and basic levels of respect for one another, even those on the other side, should be the standard.

That’s 180 degrees wrong. We must not fool ourselves into thinking that both parties are to blame for how broken Washington is. The recent battle over the debt ceiling, for instance, was a crisis created completely by Republicans intent on turning what had been a completely routine procedural matter into leverage to win their policy argument. Then, even after they had gotten their way on the policy argument and had an agreement to cut the deficit by more than $2 trillion with no revenue increases whatsoever, Republicans continued to hold the nation’s full faith and credit hostage, taking us to the brink of disaster, until they won an agreement to form a super committee to reduce the deficit even further. They insisted that the failure of that committee would trigger across-the-board spending cuts, again with absolutely no revenue increases. And then they proceeded to ensure gridlock on the committee by appointing members committed to refusing any kind of revenue increase.

Democrats, in dealing with this unprecedented act of gross irresponsibility, tried to bargain rationally. President Obama offered a deficit reduction package more conservative than any such package passed in modern times. That grand bargain would have restructured Medicare and Social Security and cut trillions of dollars in spending. Republicans rejected it because it contained a very small proportion of revenue increases – mostly in the form of closing loopholes and limiting deductions for the wealthy.

It is true that Washington gridlock and the inability to compromise has had serious results – the S&P downgrade, shaken investors, a stock market in turmoil. But it’s simply not reasonable to blame this on both parties.

One party was willing to compromise to make progress not the deficit. The other party was willing to force the economy to collapse if it didn’t get its way entirely.

Blaming both parties equally may help a commentator seem more credible and fair – but it simply does not reflect reality.

Today’s GOP is in the grips of unprecedented political insanity, and the sooner the nation comes to realize that, the better off we’ll be.

2 Responses to One party is to blame for gridlock

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