Opinion: Congress Embraces Bipartisanship - In Shirking Budget Duty

One could write a column just about how one or both parties are ignoring the overwhelming will of the people, and almost never go a more than several days without a glaring example.

I wrote that sentence as a preface to an unfinished article back in June, that I misplaced and found the other day. It's just as true now as it was then. Months later and our representatives in Washington are still arguing about how, or if, to stimulate the economy, and how, or if, to start trimming our deficit spending.

Even what seems like easy decisions, like whether the House should go ahead and pay for the programs it has put into law, can't be settled easily. Because of a different kind of bipartisanship - bipartisan unwillingness to work with each other, Congress has a difficult time doing its most fundamental job.

Rather than actually pass a real budget, the House and Senate are nailing out yet another continuing resolution that will just kick the can down the road a few weeks. As usual, there is bipartisan unhappiness with the deal. As usual, every little thing is a political football.

Moderate Republican Susan Collins reacted to this the same way the polls show the American people are. "We should not be going to the brink each time," she said. "We’re faced with FEMA actually running out of money, and with the prospect of another government shutdown. We simply cannot allow either of those things to happen.”

It looks like they wont allow either of those things to happen, but if they keep pushing issues like this to the edge, it's hard to believe that one wont eventually hit a snag of some kind and not pass in time. Disasters used to be one of the things that weren't used as political footballs, but now almost nothing is sacrosanct. This is much like how the filibuster used to be a weapon of last resort, but is now used on a regular basis in the Senate.

Watching this bit of manufactured crisis theater makes it hard to believe that there is any chance we'll see a deal come out of Congress that makes any sort of meaningful dent in the deficit, or does much of anything to help stimulate the economy. How can we trust Congress when the House left before this was even resolved? What we need is the sort of bipartisanship that leads to compromise and action on the major problems of the day, but all we're getting is bipartisan inaction, excuses and stonewalling.

Solomon Kleinsmith is a former nonprofit worker, serial social entrepreneur and strident centrist independent blogger from Omaha, Nebraska. His website, Rise of the Center, is the fastest growing blog targeting centrist independents and moderates.