Saturday, February 14, 2009

Washington really is broken. See how it "runs"

The American people supposedly voted for change in Washington, but in so many ways it continues to be business as usual. A broken system that continues to be broken:

Short-Circuiting Bipartisanship Is Nothing New for Congress
[...] it was hardly novel this week when Republicans protested vigorously that their legislative rights had been violated as the Democratic-led Congress pushed through the $787 billion economic stimulus bill with just three Republican votes in the Senate. Only the party labels had changed.

In truth, regular order — as following the Congressional rule book is known on Capitol Hill — has not been occurring very regularly in the House and Senate for years. And both parties are to blame.

Intense partisanship, a reluctance to work across the aisle, procedural game-playing and thin margins in the House and Senate have led both parties to short-circuit the legislative process, skipping over committees, blocking the right to propose amendments and generally strong-arming legislation through by relying on their own majorities.

“Bad process leads to bad policy,” said Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, who has been on both sides of the closed negotiating room door over the years.

It has gotten so bad that Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who is the majority leader, noted that almost half of the 58 Democratic senators have never participated in an official House-Senate conference committee, a form of negotiation that was once a staple of Congressional legislative life.

Some Democrats say such irregular times for the nation do not allow for regular order. But they did convene a conference committee on the stimulus bill, though it was not much of one. Negotiators met after Senate Democrats and three Republicans had already cut a deal on the plan. Democrats, who had a firm parliamentary grip on the negotiations, were not about to let the carefully calibrated agreement fall apart. [...]

Bold emphasis mine. This NYT's article goes on with their usual spin for the Democrats, claiming that the Democrats now want to get back to old procedures, especially since there have been complaints about it within their own party. But where is their actual incentive to do so? As a majority party, they can just keep pushing through whatever they want.

I would like to think that if Republican's gain more seats in the House and Senate, that things would improve, that there would be more balance and therefore, more bi-partisan cooperation. But I'm not so sure. If established procedures and order in conducting government business are not respected and followed, they can't be expected to "work" under any circumstances.

It's worth reading the whole article. It just shows how our lawmakers in D.C. have been ignoring established protocals and rules for a long time now. Is it any wonder that Washington doesn't "work" anymore? How can it, when our lawmakers just do what they want to do?

And this isn't just a problem in Washington. I've seen it in the state governments of California and Oregon. State politicians take an Oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the state, then when they get into office, they DON'T. They just do what they want. The result; massive debt and chaos, making our system of government unworkable.

When laws, rules and procedures are ignored by those who are supposed to follow and uphold them, they cease to have any meaning. Lawmakers can keep passing new laws to make themselves look busy, but without respect for the law and the procedures established for the creation of the laws that are supposed to govern us, what good can come of it?

Our system of government is literally breaking down. It served us well for over 200 years, but it can't continue to function when it is simply ignored and disregarded at will. There are people who want to replace it with something else, and I can't say I like what I see coming.

We can't turn back the clock, but we may have to fight to keep what is best from our past, to hold it and bring it forward into our future. That's why I insist it's important to respect our current form of government; it's a case of use it or lose it. Our politicians seem to use it less and less. How long before we lose it?

Related Links:

Our Tax Cheat Treasurer has No Plan

Is Obama compounding Bush's mistakes?

What would a U.S. currency collapse look like?


Anonymous said...

I like partisanship. It makes things not get done in Washington, which would be better then them screwing everything up. What we need is a Democratic President with a Republican Senate and a virtually tied House. Nothing would get accomplished and this country could accomplish things without its government getting in our way.

Chas said...

The kind of gridlock you describe requires a balance of power we don't have. I've been listening to Democrats on talk radio talking about how they must "steamroll" the Republicans now.

Genuine bipartisanship would have reduced the stimulus bill by a lot more, and increased tax breaks. I would rather see that than the Democrats steamrolling us.

While gridlock may be desirable for some things, there are some issues that must be dealt with that will require bipartisan cooperation, such as foreign policy (Iran) and our border security. If the Democrats screw those up, there may be no correcting them later.

Partisanship has it's place; political opposition is essential for our political system to work. But too often we seem to forget that bipartisanship also has a place in our government too. Without it, we become like the house divided against itself, that cannot stand. I don't want to see America collapse.

We've had a system of government that has served us well for more than two centuries. It could continue to do so if we would respect it and stop sabotaging it.