Friday, February 17, 2012

Isn’t the first step to solving a problem admitting that you have one?

With a general consensus among voters, political pundits and the economic markets that political partisanship and polarization in Congress are causing harmful legislative gridlock, one might expect lawmakers themselves to be upset over the state of things in Washington.  Apparently not.  In a revealing interview on PBS Newshour, House Speaker John Boehner argued that gridlock is not a serious problem in Congress and that “members of Congress on both sides of the aisle actually do work together to do the people’s business."

Newshour Correspondent Judy Woodruff questioned Speaker Boehner about public opinion polling that showed the American public is disenchanted with political gridlock and believes lawmakers spend more time involved in partisan bickering than actually legislating.  Speaker Boehner argued that the American public has the wrong perception and that in fact,90 percent of the time members of Congress, both sides of the aisle, are working together” and “do get along most of the time.”  He then went on to blame the media for focusing only on disagreements, and praised the House of Representatives for its “open” and “fair” process.

Although Speaker Boehner has a front row seat to the lawmaking process in Congress, it’s hard to believe that the partisanship and polarization felt by many—both inside and outside the Beltway—is a figment of the imagination.  Congress has not passed a budget in over 1,000 days, efforts to pass a comprehensive, long-term deficit reduction plan lag, and the use of the Senate filibuster is at an all time high.  While the underlying causes of gridlock are complex and will require a mix of solutions to fix, it seems unlikely that anything will be done if the political leadership in Washington does not even believe there is a problem.  If our elected representatives consider the current situation in Congress acceptable, then the American public must do a better job letting Congress know that gridlock is a serious problem that needs fixing.

Here is a link to the full interview: PBS Newsmaker Interview with Speaker John Boehner

1 comment:

  1. There is a lot of evidence out there that the House leadership is worried that its hard charging year in 2011 eroded its position going into the 2012 election. The acquiesence to the payroll tax extension - adding at least $100 billion in one year -- to the deficit is truly stunning. THese comments are in line with that.