After the Deluge, We’re Stagnant

Andrew Breland, The Elephant in the Room

Now that the election is over, Washington has heralded in a new era of bipartisanship, cooperation, and friendliness between members of the two governing parties.

Speaker of the House John Boehner and President Barack Obama have been seen golfing together, relishing in the budget deal cut not 24 hours after the election was decided. Republicans and Democrats have joined hands on the House floor to sing “Kumbaya,” evoking strong memories of the good old days when one party controlled all three lawmaking bodies. The U.S. Senate, in a rare example of congeniality, has decided to pass all legislation proposed by the majority party. The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that it refuses to hear any challenges to laws passed during the Obama administration.

Except that’s not what happened.

Following the election of President Obama, Democrats cheered. Republicans, myself included, returned to the homes we own, businesses we run, and people we care for, to settle in for another four-year ride.

Instead of compromise, politicians took an extended break from Washington after the election. The media picked up the 2016 presidential race (President Rubio anyone?). When Washington finally returned to lawmaking, Obama took a very important step towards bipartisanship when he hosted Steven Spielberg, Daniel Day-Lewis, and other members of the Lincoln cast for a private screening.

In addition to these issues central to U.S. policymaking, politicians have returned to Washington and have begun the search for an illustrious budget deal to avert the “fiscal cliff.” In less than one month, without action, the U.S. economy implodes. Taxes are increased. Federal spending is slashed, especially in the military. Millions will lose their jobs as a result. Already since the election, people’s hours have been cut and workers laid off to avoid the “Obamacare tax” threatened for 2014. To avoid this cliff is to avert total disaster.

But politicians in Washington have returned to the old ways of bickering, fighting, and choosing to ignore the other side to get the job done. Hardly the role of a proper statesman.

Cracks have begun to show in the party blocs, however. Led by Senator Saxby Chambliss and Representative Peter King, both Republicans, some amount of bipartisanship is appearing. Both Chambliss and King have stated that they are willing to raise taxes and cut spending to avert financial ruin. And that is hardly the end of it. House Republicans unanimously push for simplification of tax loopholes, which would raise revenues.

Taxes, as we all know, are the Republican’s sacred cow. So, you would expect Democrats to applaud this and respond with their own concessions. Asking Democrats to concede a little is hardly revolutionary. But again, Democrats are refusing to move. In fact, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, a Democrat, stated that there is no way Democrats will move to reform entitlements, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, to aid in avoiding this crisis.

A far cry from the “failure to communicate” popularized by Strother Martin, Democrats simply are not listening. Republicans are willing to compromise and are offering to raise taxes to do it. Democrats remain stubborn.

A long four years ago, then-Senator Barack Obama claimed that rural voters (Republicans) “cling to their guns and religion.” Well, now it’s the Democrats clinging to their fiscal insolvency and pigheadedness.

Personally, I’d rather be clinging to my guns and religion.