NBC has an interesting article “A New Kind of Gridlock: Why Congress Is More Broken Than Ever“. I’m usually skeptical about articles like this, because we are always seeing people claim that things are getting worse, when in general, things are actually getting mostly better. The number of wars is going down, tolerance for other races and sexual identities is going up, we are getting rid of stupid victimless laws, like the ones that were putting people in jail just for smoking marijuana.
But the article does make a good point. Here’s the first paragraph:
Yes, Congress has typically been divided over ideology (liberal vs. conservative) or geography (North vs. South, big states vs. small ones). And, yes, partisan flare-ups in the summer of an election year are hardly new. But here is why this Congress appears more broken than past ones: It can’t even seem to do the small, bipartisan things anymore. Case in point is the legislative dysfunction surrounding the responses to 1) the unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, and 2) reforming the VA hospitals across the country. Almost every member — Democratic or Republican — said the situation at the border was a humanitarian crisis that needed a response. But passing emergency spending (between $2 to $4 billion in aid) has become such a difficult lift, and looks less likely by the day. Last month, every member of Congress said VA hospitals needed to better serve veterans, and the Senate (by a 93-3 vote) and House (426-0) passed legislation to reform these hospitals. But they’ve been unable to come together in a conference committee to reconcile the two bills. Folks, we’re not talking about overhauling the nation’s health-care system, enacting comprehensive immigration reform, raising taxes, or changing entitlement programs — all of which have sparked fierce ideological battles in the past. We’re talking about the small stuff, actions that either have near-universal support or that cost relative drops in the federal budget. That’s why this gridlock is different.
And indeed, even the Wall Street Journal is pointing out that as Congress adjourns for the entire month of August, they have accomplished almost nothing so far.
As an executive at a public affairs firm put it “We’ve reached the point in Washington where compromise is the equivalent of collaborating with the enemy,” thanks in part to election-year dynamics. “You’ve got everybody jockeying for position and they’d rather have issues than solutions.”
When did win-win become a filthy word in Washington?