Washington wastes a lot more than money. The most dangerous and damaging government waste comes not from squandering tax dollars, but from partisan politics denying the country opportunities to make things better. Will the end of America be brought about by partisanship maintaining our downward spiral, until we reach the point of no return?
Democrats and Republicans are still talking about creating jobs, a low risk indulgence because both parties know that lack of progress is the other party’s fault. Harry Reid blames Republicans for not doing anything, even though the Senate will discard whatever the House comes up with:
Last week, in a moment of candor, House Republicans admitted they’ve given up on legislating until after the election.¹
John Boehner had already vented his frustration with Senate Democrats:
You know, there’s no better example than the 30 House-passed bills that would help create jobs. Our plan for American job creators – most of these bills are all sitting over in the United States Senate.²
This morning we found out how well partisan politics is working for us on the jobs front when we had a look at the employment numbers for June. Partisanship has devolved into another form of government waste that halts progress, diverts attention from real problems we need to solve, and costs the country untold sums of money in negotiated compromises that keep special interests happy but never seem to address the problems at hand.
Here are six examples of dangerous government waste treasured on Capitol Hill as partisan excuses to do nothing.
Indulging in partisanship for its own sake
Lawmakers are fond of blocking bills not because of what they contain, but because of who and where they come from. The fact that Republicans rule the House should not make every bill sent to the Senate DOA. Just because President Obama backs a piece of legislation does not always make the bill a dangerously bad idea (most of the time it does, but not always).
Feigning agreement while partisan politics builds roadblocks
Making a show of agreeing on something that needs to be done gives lawmakers a chance to appease the public while they put up roadblocks that halt progress. Both parties know that we need to deal with the debt, but partisan politics has made deciding on worthwhile spending cuts impossible. Only the seriously deluded can believe that we stand any chance at trimming more than pocket change from the federal budget.
Political deal making that accomplishes nothing
The only thing worse than a grandstanding politician is two grandstanding politicians, one Democrat and one Republican, glad-handing each other over a historic compromise that gets us nothing.
As signs pointed to the end of America coming not from war or terrorism but by debt, lawmakers told us in April 2011 that they had compromised on tens of billions in budget cuts, barely a scratch in our debt load. The unfortunate truth was that they did not even pull off the minimal reductions we were promised (see: Spending Cut Hoax or Not, Budget Process Is a Fraud).
In August 2011 policymakers cooked up a debt ceiling bill they told us was the result of historic compromise. Capitol Hill is already abuzz with cries to stop that bill’s final solution, mandatory spending cuts triggered because all efforts to agree failed (see: Federal Debt Crisis, Sequestration Will Turn Ugly in November). How Congress is going to justify the fix for their fix is anyone’s guess.
Lying about the purpose of legislation
Lies are valuable legislative tools that give lawmakers opportunities to waste time and point fingers while the public tries to sort out the facts behind whatever we are being asked to pay for. Illegals are the future of America? Teachers are underpaid? The private sector is doing fine but government workers need help? Bailing out GM saved U.S. manufacturing? The health care bill will reduce the deficit? Enough. Americans know a lie when we hear it (see: How to Tell When the Government Lies).
Making false claims of bipartisan support
When partisan politics get ugly this one becomes a favorite. One or two members of an opposing party supporting a concept does not make a bill like the American Jobs Act bipartisan, despite presidential assurances of agreement:
It has now been three weeks since I sent this bill to Congress. It’s a detailed plan to get this economy moving. It’s the kind of proposals that, in the past, Democrats and Republicans have supported. There’s nothing radical in this proposal.³
Government waste of valuable time
Time is important. Lost time never comes back. The train wreck of the past four years and the problems that are becoming terminal because of the intransigence of partisan politics will bring on the end of America. In the face of a June jobs report that repeats “unchanged” as many times as it will fit on a page, we aren’t left with much hope, are we?