You would think that when one party controls both Congress and the White House they would make great forward strides together. But history over the last few decades has proven just the opposite. The American political system is based on checks and balances. It’s proven to be an effective way of governing. Some of the greatest accomplishments have occurred when the White House and Congress were led by opposing parties.
Once upon a time…
Let’s look at reducing the deficit. During the last 30 years the only time we have had meaningful deficit reduction was when we had a Republican congress and a Democratic president. Each side learned that they couldn’t get all they wanted and had to learn to work together. The result was a spectacular success on setting this country on the road to a sound financial footing.
It’s hard to believe that in the not too distant past (2000) people were talking about annual government surpluses. Under Clinton and a Republican Congress the government even stopped issuing 30 year bonds, was paying down its long-term debt and the National Debt Clock in Times Square was taken down because the debt was finally being reduced.
But there was no happily ever after…
Unfortunately, one of those eyeing the “extra cash” was George W. Bush. I still remember his speech at the Republican convention when he referred to the latest surplus. He said that the taxpayers had overpaid the government and now they were due a refund. I almost kicked in my TV screen. “Sure”, I yelled at the inanimate object before me (Bush not the TV), “the government had a surplus last year but it still has to pay down the long-term debt.” Money that was increasingly being owed to places that may not like us so much like, say, China. I don’t think Bush ever understood the difference. If he truly did get an MBA from Harvard they should ask for it back because he obviously didn’t learn anything there.
Bush and the Republicans then ran up record deficits and even had to revive the 30 year bond so they could borrow more . The Republicans spent like they didn’t care about tomorrow. Dick Cheney weighed in saying that Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter. This from the supposed party of fiscal responsibility? If the Democrats were the party of tax-and-spend, then the Republicans became the party of borrow-and-spend. Let the grandkids worry about it.
Late night cravings
Now I believe the Republicans may have meant well when they suddenly found themselves in charge of both houses of Congress and the White House. They probably believed their own sound bites from the campaign trail. Just like when my wife brings home a dozen donuts, I have every intention of sharing them with the family. I really do. But when day turns into night and a man’s lust knows no bounds, I can hear those glazed little hussies calling out, “Eat me. Eat me.” Who can resist such temptation? I certainly can’t and neither could the Republicans.
All of a sudden Capitol Hill became an unsupervised slumber party. Like Chuckie Cheeses without a grown-up in sight. Congress feasted on the budget busting equivalent of cardboard pizza and flat soda until even some of them became disgusted with themselves. Unfortunately for them, so did the rest of the country and they threw them out.
Things will be different this time right?
2008 came along and a new wave took over Washington. Now the Democrats had the same power until now granted to the Republicans. And what did they do with this awesome new power? They spent even more. If under the Republicans Capitol Hill was one big unsupervised sleepover, under the Democrats it became dollar night at a hooker convention. As if in a perverse way they were trying to prove that they could spend even more than the other party.
The problem when one party controls Washington is that there is no adult supervision. There is no natural system of checks and balances between opposing viewpoints. We need to get back to what we had in the early 90s. A Republican Congress and a centrist Democratic President. (And to those of you turning red and screaming, “Obama? That Marxist Che Guevara loving socialist is a centrist!?”, yes he is, why do you think the left-wing blogosphere hates him so?)
So here we are. We need the Republicans to take back Congress. Now I am under no illusions that they will become beacons of fiscal rectitude overnight. But I do know this, they will fight every initiative put forth by the Obama administration. He will have to give-and-take here and there. He will realize he can’t get everything he wants. Obama and the Republicans will forge compromises together. This will result in lower spending than is now foreseen with the present one-party rule in Washington. It’s happened before and it can happen again.