September 14, 2013


"Brighter future for politics and policy requires a different Republican Party" (THOMAS E. MANN AND NORMAN J. ORNSTEIN, 9/14/13, Salon)

The deep dysfunction that has gripped our political system for the past several years has not disappeared. If anything, it is even more pronounced in the House of Representatives and in many states. Lizza noted in his March 2013 New Yorker profile of Cantor: "House Republicans as a group are farther to the right than they have ever been. The overwhelming majority still fear a primary challenge from a more conservative rival more than a general-election campaign against a Democrat. They may hope that the Party's national brand improves enough to help win the White House in 2016, but there is little incentive for the average member of the House to moderate his image."

However sincere Boehner's professions of desire for conciliation, the Lizza description of the House Republican majority dominated the policy and political dynamic in the weeks following the election, as Congress and the president grappled with the looming "fiscal cliff"--the expiration on December 31, 2012, of all the Bush tax cuts from 2001 and 2003, of the payroll tax cut and other Obama-sponsored tax reductions to stimulate a tepid recovery, and of a series of tax extenders including the research and development credit, along with the first wave of across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester, enacted as part of the last-minute deal in 2011 to avert the breach in the debt ceiling.

The resolution of the fiscal cliff showed both that dysfunction continued to be dangerously high and that any successes in policy making through at least the remainder of the 113th Congress would come via the route of bipartisan supermajorities in the Senate (with a half dozen or more Republicans joining almost all of the Democrats) forcing the hand of the more partisan and reluctant House. 

...that two core jobs of the government are budget-making and fostering economic growth.

Now let us consider what the most dysfunctional legislative body in the history of the Multiverse has produced: massive strides towards balancing the budget; and a growing economy despite uniform predictions that the former would make the latter impossible.

If one disregards the atmospherics and judges them solely on the basis of what they've done, it would be hard for a non-partisan observer to ask for much more from Congress.

Sadly, for all their posturing to the contrary, the authors are not non-partisan.

Posted by at September 14, 2013 3:10 PM

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