Pro and Con…gress
The ballyhooed Fiscal Cliff has been avoided, but it was a narrow thing. Many members of congress–most or all of them Republicans by my understanding–wanted to take the country over it like Wile E. Coyote chasing an ever-elusive financial Roadrunner. As I understand it, the bill in question had to be passed no later than today to prevent some Bush-era tax cuts from expiring as well as making other economically beneficial tax changes. The above-mentioned congresspeople wanted to tack on some significant budget cuts, but doing so would have sent the bill–acknowledged as a temporary fix–back to the Senate and thus delayed its passage by enough to allow the tax cuts to expire and cause, according to many sources, economic ruin.
The problem is that it seems many of our elected officials don’t see this whole mess for what it is, or if they do they ignore it. It’s a political process. There’s a variety of other things which can be done to improve our economy, including budget cuts, but they don’t have to happen all at once, much less as a part of this “patch” bill. To me, this is part of the problem with the ongoing debate over Obamacare. The health care package is not intended to be an end-all solution; it’s a starting point.
This is the key thing: Everything has to start somewhere. Progress (according to one old joke, the opposite of Con-gress) on a national level is rarely going to be made in giant leaps. President Obama’s health care package is one rare example, and it is not perfect. But it, like the fiscal patch bill, is a step in the right direction. Do something now, adjust it later to make it better. It’s possible all of the proposed budget cuts are a good idea (unlikely, but possible), but they don’t need to be added to the patch bill, slowing its passage to the point where it causes economic problems on a national level. There’s a “new” congress starting, but many of the members of the “old” one are still in office and can introduce legislation for those cuts as a separate thing.
I suppose this is just a demonstration of a part of human nature: We want it all and we want it now. Our elected officials know this is all a process, that legislation like this can be split up into pieces passed at different times, but they ignore it in favor of trying to (1) do everything at once and (b) voice their opinion about how the whole thing stinks, mostly to follow some perceived creed of their party or whatever, not necessarily for any real, practical reason. This latter part is the disturbing bit, and I wish there were a way to stop it.
This is problem with modern politics: There’s too much politicking. There’s occasionally talk of bipartisan support for this or that, but all too often the Democrats and the Republicans are divided along party lines on one issue or another. Rather than trying to do what’s best, our elected officials prefer to follow a liberal or conservative point of view as defined by their party with little or no room for compromise. Personally, I want the impossible: A party-free system with lots of accountability. Each elected official would, for each bill they voted on, be required to write an essay on why they voted the way they did and how it benefited the region they were elected to represent or the country as a whole. Note that I am putting this in a positive light: I don’t want to know how their vote helps to oppose those who voted differently, but how it benefits their constituents. Perhaps we can get bipartisan support requiring the essay part at least.
No, probably not. Wishful thinking, I know. But I will keep wishing.