WASHINGTON – Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are fast approaching another all too frequent do-or-die deadline. In two weeks’ time, the Department of Homeland Security could shut down if Congress is unable to pass a new appropriations bill. Current funding is set to expire due to the end of last year’s so-called CR/omnibus.
Last month House Republicans passed a DHS spending bill that would fund the entire department but block the President’s controversial executive actions on immigration. The bill has been stalled in the Senate, however, as Democrats have repeatedly blocked the House-passed legislation from even coming to the floor.
Although the Senate is in stalemate, House Republicans say not to expect another DHS funding bill to come from the House, that the ball is in the Senate’s court. The path forward remains murky.
Not to fear, however. These things ultimately are figured out one way or another.
There is a prevailing notion that Washington, D.C. is broken. This episode is just several in a series of how our elected officials aren’t working for us, but to live high on the hog while promoting their personal, partisan agendas.
So why even bother engaging? Watching “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” is much more entertaining than any of the news broadcasts.
The dirty little secret is Washington is broken — at least not in the way that it is portrayed.
Driving the myth is that Washington is a place where partisanship is the motivation.
Some liberal talking heads would have you believe that Republicans want to take America back to a place where birth control and abortion are illegal, Jim Crow laws are still in place, where greedy robber barons reap the benefits off the backs of the downtrodden and the invasion of an Middle Eastern country is right around the corner.
Conversely, some conservatives would have you believe that the Democratic Party aims to socialize every aspect of American life, enact a way of life in which the philosopher-kings in the federal government dictate everything an individual does from when they awake, what they eat, what they wear, etc. and would ban religion altogether so that the state would fill that void.
But that’s just part of the game.
If there wasn’t fear in the system, then fundraising for reelection would be that much more difficult. Without boogeymen like Common Core and the so-called war on women, what’s going to motivate some to even show up on Election Day?
All of that is a sideshow, a distraction from what’s really going on.
The reality is Washington functions much more efficiently than 90 percent of the public realizes. Certainly there are disagreements and overcoming obstacles is much more difficult with divided government. But when it does function, things get done.
Since the Republicans won the House in 2010 and John Boehner has taken over as Speaker, the federal government has still managed to increase its debt by $4 trillion. Keep in mind, the bulk of that was with a Democratic-controlled Senate in addition to a Democrat in the White House.
Either that is some expensive gridlock, or it proves the idea that Washington is broken is canard.
There is a divide in the country, but it mostly a cultural phenomenon. The same-sex marriage fight has given Alabamians a front-row to the cultural division in the country.
When they’re making sausage in Washington, hardly any of the ingredients touch on aspects of social issues, at least legislatively.
Occasionally, things likes mandated birth control or publicly funded abortions will be the prevailing issues in a given news cycle, as they were in Obama’s 2010 healthcare reform law.
That’s just a drop in the bucket of the overall function of our federal government.
Certainly, there are exceptions. Elections can be swayed based on the economy. But if you’re looking at the electoral map over the past three decades, the stridently red states are socially conservative and the stridently blue states are socially liberal or less conservative.
Social issues, however, aren’t regularly debated in the chambers of Congress.
That isn’t going to change our politics. The media are hammering prospective 2016 Republican presidential candidate Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) for not committing to an answer on evolution. That’s just part of the game.
Whether or not Walker believes in the theory of creation or evolution will likely have no impact on the day-to-day operations of our behemoth federal government. The pencil pusher on the seventh floor of the Department of Commerce will be doing the same thing he was doing during the Bush and Obama years, which is really something many of us have no idea what.
So when you hear “Washington is broken,” it’s being used as a campaign slogan. The problem is, any of the elected officials on the ballot for federal office, from member of Congress to the office of president, aren’t going to fix it on their own. There are institutional flaws, dug-in bureaucracies and lobbies that feed off of the government that prevent any immediate extraordinary change.
Changing that won’t be easy. If done electorally, it would have to be done in many elections over several generations. Americans as whole haven’t shown they’re willing go in that direction electorally, which proves that old saying that in the United States, we get the government we deserve.