Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cost and Blame

Andrew Sullivan quotes a Jay Cost's priceless piece of blame-shifting for the federal government's current stall:

It's easy to blame the Senate for inactivity - but the problem is the House. It has consistently passed legislation that is too far to the left for the Senate and the country. Ultimate responsibility rests with the President, whose expressed indifference toward policy details has allowed the more vigorous House Democrats, led by an extraordinarily vigorous Speaker, to dominate. That the President consistently praised the House and blamed the Senate in his State of the Union address suggests that he remains unaware of this problem.
The problem is the House? That's rich.

The House of Representatives has passed bills that track rather closely with what its present members campaigned to pass, and this makes sense, as the House is the most small-d democratic body in the federal government, both in the way its members represent districts and people, and in its quaint, exotic simple-majority-plus-one requirement to pass bills.

It may be that US voters elected 435 members to the House that were "too far to the left" of those voters' policy preferences, but if so, this happened because the voters weren't paying due attention to the foreseeable policy outcomes associated with electing them. And in any case, voters will, before the year is out, have the opportunity to vote them out of office if they find them "too far to the left" or too "extraordinarily vigorous" or whatever.

The situation is not difficult to read; this is not 11-dimensional chess. The House has passed more than its share of legislation, much of it quite good. Nearly all of it has stopped in the Senate, stalled by a combination of presidential lassitude and right-wing obstructionism.

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