Tuesday, August 10, 2010

For all its dysfunction, the government is getting a lot done

Lately, the meme going around a lot of the political blogosphere, and I imagine a lot of TV as well (although I get all my news from the internet so I am not really sure), is that the government is broken, that the senate is a hopeless mess beyond repair and that drastic changes need to be made before the the calcified remains of Congress become fixed in hopeless gridlock for all time. I have to admit, the government has seemed to operate with a lot of sturm and drang over the last 18 months.

There has been a lot of shouting about health care and finance and the deficit ... and depending on your political views either a lot of stonewalling and needless obstructionism by Republicans or crazy spending and the enactment of all sorts of "liberal", misguided programs by the democrats and Obama.

Having said all of this, the government has been remarkably effective at getting big stuff passed recently. The stimulus. The lily Ledbetter Fair pay act. The Hate Crimes act. Health Care Reform. Financial Reform. Two Supreme Court justices confirmed. And even more stuff was done in the house (climate change, for instance). For all the complaints that the government is broken, it seems to be getting a reasonable amount done.

Now I don't actually think the government is fine. I think that the largest Congressional majorities in a generation should have been able to pass bills that were more in-line with the actual left's desires .. think public option, real Volcker rule, 1 trillion + stimulus, transportation reform ... rather than bills that the right thinks are too liberal but are really recycled, centrist ideas from the 80's. and 90's. But that is because I am fairly left, and I think that if I were fairly right, I would have a different opinion. Perhaps I would think the new laws had gone too far and would be at least a little pleased that the government was passing these bills rather than the aforementioned more-left versions.

And maybe that means the government is working alright after all ... if neither side is satisfied, maybe that means we have found the right medium. Personally I don't think so, because passing centrist bills that do not (in my opinion) really address the problems they are supposed to be addressing does not seem to be a good solution ... but maybe thats just my left ideology getting in the way ...

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