As America edges ever closer to the fiscal cliff, now is the appropriate time to pause and acknowledge a key truth – bipartisanship has failed us.
Politicians love to hail bipartisanship as the golden objective, even when the result is botched policy. They especially love to extol the virtues of “working together” and “reaching across the aisle” when it’s politically convenient for them to do so.
But in times like these, as Washington desperately calls for a bipartisan solution, we hear little mention of what Congress left us with after their last go at bipartisanship – the fiscal cliff.
Cobbled together behind closed doors under deadline, Congress passed the Budget Control Act on August 2, 2011. The act stipulated that, in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, Congress must agree to cut the deficit by $1.2 trillion before January 1st.
If Congress failed at the designated task, across the board cuts would automatically be triggered on January 2nd, affecting both domestic and defense spending. Coupled with expiring tax cuts, these automatic cuts would deal a severe blow of unknown proportions to the American economy.
The fiscal cliff, though, is just one failed bipartisan policy in a series of many. You probably don’t remember the Baucus-Grassley jobs bill, and there’s a reason for that – it did nothing in the way of creating jobs. How about Medicare Part D? This two-party treasure is set to leave us with a $727.3 billion bill over the next ten years. And then there’s No Child Left Behind. At least 34 states have opted out of this failure.
These are the results of bipartisanship when two parties come together with an “I’ll give you this if you give me that” mentality. The product is, at best, an amalgamation of nothingness and, at worst, a catalyst for economic calamity that Congress must madly try and avert.
But as with any rule, there are exceptions. Although bipartisanship of the 21st century has done little for us, the bipartisanship of yesteryears had its shining moments. When President Clinton and Speaker Gingrich came together to pass welfare reform, bipartisanship yielded a net good. This meaningful compromise, however, is a far cry from what we’re dealing with today.
Bipartisanship of the 21st century is little more than a cobbling together of the Republican’s X with the Democrat’s Y. Republicans cave to Democrat spending, and Democrats act like they support Republican tax cuts, creating what Kevin Williamson of the National Review calls “the national suicide pact that Congress has signed up for.”
This type bipartisanship is a demonstrable failure, leaving us with mounting deficits, failed policies, and increasing taxes. It’s time we recognize this and give the flowery demand of cooperation the swift dose of reality it needs.
As we try and iron out the consequences bipartisanship has given us, I commend the faction of congressional Republicans who have so far refused to implement the failed policy of raising taxes on any portion of taxpayers.
Why should they “come to the center” if they know that doing so would wreak economic havoc? And if averting tax increases on the middle class is truly important to President Obama, why won’t he lead, as Clinton did with welfare reform, and extend tax cuts for all? It’s the president’s job to fix the bipartisan chaos he helped to create; so far he’s proven inept at this task.
The federal government is trying frantically to avoid the muddle they’ve created, and for the sake of us all, let’s hope they do. In the event they don’t, we’ll all pay the price.
As you see your paycheck dwindle on January 2nd, remember this – you have bipartisanship to thank.