(Probably Not)

01.22.13

Can Congress Get Anything Done?

Ed Morrissey reflects on what it will take to get anything done in the latest version of Congress. I suspect he's overly optimistic:

Democrats want to pass comprehensive tax reform to increase revenues, for which they need normal-order budgeting, for political if not parliamentary reasons. Republicans have an interest in reforming the tax code as well: Broadening the tax base and removing the distortions that come from social engineering in the tax code. With revenue increases from a broadened tax base that will result from real tax-code reform, Democrats should be able to marry that to entitlement reforms that at least begin to reduce the juggernaut of future unfunded liabilities for the federal government. That would produce enough mutual benefit to find a middle ground for both parties that can easily be projected in principle from almost any vantage point on the political spectrum.

This will only happen when both sides see short-term political advantage in consolidating some gains and backing off of all-or-nothing demands, through cooperation and normal order, over obstructionism and brinksmanship. Republicans, who had hoped to have increased leverage after the November elections, appear to have seen the reality of having control of only one lever of power in Washington (the House) while Democrats have the other two (the Senate and White House), and have accordingly adjusted their approach. Will Democrats adjust theirs now that they realize they can't dictate outcomes either, and return to the normal-order budgeting needed to end the Age of Cliffs? That is the question, and it remains to be seen whether Cantor's optimism is an artifact of a sunny day or the acknowledgment of a changed Washington.