A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I visited our respective families in our home town as part of our summer vacation. Both of our families come from conservative backgrounds and they are politically outspoken on many issues. However, my mother-in-law made an interesting comment on the debt ceiling talks that made me take pause.
As Fox News broadcasted the latest news on the debt talks between both sides, my mother-in-law commented how she wished that Congress would do something to end the bickering because, "nothing is getting done." I paused for a moment, smiled, and asked, "What should Congress be doing? Is there a particular law that you need passed? Are you in need of more regulations and taxes that drive up the costs of goods and services?" She looked at me, taken a back, and reiterated that Congress just needs to do something. I felt bewildered at her frustration.
My mother-in-law, like so many who watch network and cable news, has fallen victim to the fallacies that Congress MUST act; that a debt deal MUST be reached and signed; and that Congress MUST stop arguing and get along. On the contrary. Gridlocks in Congress should be the norm. Unlike the previous session of the democratic-controlled Congress, which wrote and passed bills as if they had a sixth sense about their job security, the 112th session of Congress moves comparably slower. In political terms, slow is good for Americans. Slow is good for the wallet.
Sure, the debt ceiling deal talks have creeped along, with each side expectantly jockeying for political position, hoping to get the most for their party and their constituents. However, the pace of the debt talks pale in comparison to the whirlwind speed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was written, passed, and signed into law; a bill that virtually appeared overnight. Similarly, we were told by politicians and the media that Congress must act to insure the health and care of every American and that Congress must act to fix a broken system. The Left worked tirelessly to control the message but I remember the town meetings which were attended by outraged Americans. Voters rejected the left's message and things ultimately didn't turn out well for Congressional democrats, as they took a hit in the polls and we already know the results of the November, 2010 elections.
Its my layman's guess that the White House and the democrat leadership want a debt deal FAST so they can avoid the ire of constituents in town meetings during the next break. They don't want the media broadcasting the real feelings of Americans because so far, the left has relied on the president quoting sketchy polling numbers to support their cause. I believe Speaker Boehner knows that if he calls the president's bluff and the issue goes to the American people, then his hand wins the political pot and the democrats lose, and lose big. Why does the president run to the news cameras after each meeting? He knows he must control the narrative and shape public opinion on this issue, and so far that approach has worked; my conservative mother-in-law is an example of this.
Gridlock is a good thing, folks. The Founding Fathers designed our bicameral system so legislation, good and bad, can't be ramrodded down the throats of Americans. Debate, no matter how contentious, is vital to our liberties and to government transparency. Too bad Congress didn't fall into gridlock over Obamacare but hindsight is always 20/20.