my view

A divided Congress gets little done

For some, that might be the point

By ANNERMAIRE SCHUETZ
Posted 11/25/20

So, I’ve been thinking. (Cue the horrified cries.)

Looks like we have a Democratic president, a Democratic House and a Republican Senate. What’s going to get signed into law? Nothing, …

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my view

A divided Congress gets little done

For some, that might be the point

Posted

So, I’ve been thinking. (Cue the horrified cries.)

Looks like we have a Democratic president, a Democratic House and a Republican Senate. What’s going to get signed into law? Nothing, right?

Close, if the current Congress is anything to go by. With 19,511 bills and joint resolutions introduced, only 193 actually made it through the process and were signed into law.

Compare that with “an average of 417 for each of the past 10 two-year Congresses... the smallest number passed since, at least, the 93rd Congress between 1973 and 1974, which passed 772 bills,” according to SP Market insight.

Government looks paralyzed. Little gets done, even when one party controls both the House and Senate.

Which suits small-government folks just fine.

For years, the GOP has pushed for local solutions to problems. Local officials, they say, are more aware of needs, and if they get it wrong, the voters can get rid of them. Want things done differently? You can run for office yourself.

They’re not wrong. There are many issues that are best decided at the local or state level because communities are different—priorities are different. Rural cops face different situations than urban ones do. Schools are challenged when the state or federal government hits them with more requirements. There’s only so much you can ask taxpayers to cough up.

So, a slowed federal government is just going with the program. The less it can get done, by that line of thinking, the better. Local and state governments will cope better on their own.

Oh, not everyone wants everything to be locally managed. They’ll allow federal involvement at some level. But here are a couple things to consider as you draw your line in the sand:

If you’re going to encourage local governments to make decisions, then it’s only fair to accept them, even if the choice doesn’t go the way you want. (Looking at you, mask laws.) If you turn around and override a choice you disagree with… that’s hypocrisy.

And this: There is so much that needs decisions and money at the federal level because so much has grown large, complicated and expensive. Just think: Interstates required federal support and coordination, and now they’re integral to our society, moving goods cross-country. Regulation is sometimes necessary (read about the origins of the FDA or auto safety). The internet is not and never will be locally controlled—or, arguably, controlled at all. The feds can scare up money to pay for the big stuff easier than communities or even states can.

States and communities are no longer free-standing entities. Everything is intertwined.

You can, of course, blow everything up and dance on the smoking remains. That’s one way to get rid of the big-government behemoth. But at some point, you’ll have to start over. If you want our way of life now—with schools, commerce, safe eldercare, decent roads and formaldehyde-free food—without the federal government at the center, you’ll have a challenging time pulling it off.

 In the end, a frozen government gets us nowhere. And that’s not an option. We need to sit down together and work it out. Erasing the line in the sand.

Annemarie Schuetz spent her childhood as a young Democrat immersed in Republican politics.  She now tries to bring that blended approach to the River Reporter.

Comments

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Noah Kaminsky

I appreciate your perspective in this article! I may not agree with it fully, but I hadn't considered what a shift in local vs. federal could do with adequate funding and support. Thanks for writing this.

Thursday, January 21