WASHINGTON, October 11, 2017 – Americans across the country are becoming increasingly frustrated with the entire Federal government. In order for laws to be passed, a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate have to agree on what those laws contain. Then the president must agree and affix his signature.
Further, for anything involving funding to take effect, Congress must next pass a funding resolution for the President to sign, dragging out matters further. In either case, however, over the last seven years, it seems that there has been little agreement in Congress on anything.
In 2009 and 2010, former Democratic President Barack Obama could reach agreement with Congress on many key laws. At that time the Democrats held a clear majority in the House of Representatives and a 60-vote supermajority in the Senate. During this time, many major laws were passed including the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the complex Dodd-Frank financial bill.
The problem with those laws and many others was that they were passed without any input from the Republican opposition. In other words, the Democrats sold their position. For that reason, one could expect that these controversial laws would be modified or even repealed when the make-up of Congress changed. This was indeed the case in the 2010 elections that resulted in a voter backlash, giving the Republicans clear majority control of the House.
In 2011, President Obama became so frustrated with the divided Congress and its unwillingness or inability to pass the laws he wanted, that he began to issue many executive orders, essentially ignoring Congress along with the Constitutionally mandated separation of powers. Many of these actions were clearly illegal. Yet most of them could be actually canceled by the next president as without the input of Congress, they did not carry the force of law.
Why do we have this problem? Will things ultimately be different during President Trump’s administration?
The root of Washington’s current dysfunction lies in the behavior of our elected officials. When America has a problem that requires the passage of legislation to correct, the motivation of the problem solvers on Capitol Hill should be to seek the best solution for all Americans. Unfortunately, our elected officials do not follow that simple guideline.
Instead, many lawmakers believe that they have developed a solution that will not only solve the problem as they see it, but will advance their political agenda as well. Then they try to sell their position. But in an environment where the members try to peddle a political position rather than seek a generally agreed-upon solution, progress is very difficult.
That explains why Congress is currently so thoroughly divided. After Trump was elected last fall, Congressional Democrats claimed that they completely disagreed in advance with everything Trump and Republicans might suggest as a solution to any problem. They were not seeking solutions, but rather claimed they would resist any effort to solve a problem that did not embrace their own political position.
“Resist. Resist. Resist ” was the Democrat’s motto. Hence, the current bitterly disruptive “Resistance” to the current Administration.
But in Congress, the GOP majority has proven equally at fault. “Repeal and replace” previously passed legislation, and “reverse all executive orders” put in place by the former administration. Since 2014, the GOP had a two-house majority – as the Democrats did in 2009 and 2010 – they thought they could easily sell their own positions. But not all Republican Senators agreed.
A frustrated President Trump decided to change the selling proposition. Possessing a business background rather than a political one, he came to Washington already aware of the importance of seeking solutions that could satisfy all sides. It is for that reason that he began to reach out to the Democrats when his own party proved incapable of getting the job done.
On the issues of the federal budget and the debt ceiling, Trump knew that if he only worked with his own party on contentious issues, seeking a solution to the country’s most pressing problems would be very difficult. For starters, the Democrats and Trump agreed to seek an interim solution to the perpetually divisive debt ceiling issue this fall. The compromise bill was passed in both houses of Congress with more than 80 percent of members voting in favor of its passage.
Going forward, President Trump will continue to seek bipartisan solutions. Since the GOP- controlled Senate could not pass any kind of health care legislation to repeal or replace the consistently unpopular and unsuccessful Obamacare package, Trump will reach out to the Democrats to incorporate some of their concerns into a new healthcare law. Whether the solution repeals or simply modifies the existing law is not Trump’s main concern. Solving the problem is at the top of his list.
Since Trump is a businessperson and not a politician, he will not kick the can down the road on tough issues, as has been Washington’s custom for at least a quarter of a century now, he will confront major problems today, again with the goal of seeking a solution rather than selling a political position.
Many of the country’s current international problems are at least partially the result of prior administrations finding ways to appease opponents but not achieve lasting solutions. The current problem with North Korea, for example, is not a new one. It is at least partially a result of 25 years of appeasement and bribery of the various Kim regimes, but no solution. The same can be said for issue of Iran, which in a great many ways is alarmingly similar.
With regard to taxation, today’s Federal income tax code is so complicated, so counter-productive and so unfair that a major change is needed. For the past 30 years, lawmakers have simply made adjustments and tweaks to the system, knowingly pushing the issue of tax reform onto the next incoming administration. Trump says he will handle all problems expeditiously. Right now.
Although he is fighting a Democratic opposition party that simply opposes anything he suggests because he suggests it; a Republican majority party that simply cannot agree on any major issue; and a mainstream media that still can’t believe that he won Election 2016, Trump has the right idea to achieve real and lasting solutions. He will focus on seeking those actual solutions rather than selling his political positions to an American populace that has grown weary of Washington’s unproductive and self-serving shenanigans.
This policy is exactly what America needs. Rather than fixating on real and imagined flaws in Trump’s personalities and methods, we should all support his efforts to break the political logjam in Washington, D.C.
*Cartoon by Branco. Used with permission and by arrangement with LegalInsurrection.