Once again, I’m foraying into politics. Please be kind.
A lot of the fighting in Congress in the past few years has been to strike what insiders refer to as “grand bargains”. Basically both Democrats and the GOP want each piece of legislation to do more – go big, go bold. The debt ceiling debacle and the recent fiscal cliff negotiations are prime examples of attempts at grand bargains – trying to fix more than one problem at a time and essentially kill multiple birds with one stone. Notably, each has failed.
An opinion article on CNN.com claims that these grand bargains are doomed because in the long run, there is always a loser in going big. A Representative or a Senator may get something they want in a bill, but only by agreeing to additions that are only likely to anger their constituents. “A combination of lawmakers lacking courage, the threat of primary challenges and nobody wanting to put skin in the game makes it incredibly difficult to get a big, bipartisan deal done.” Author Dan Merica claims that it is the next election, and more specifically fear of negative press, that hinders these great deals.
But perhaps it’s more simple than that. Maybe it’s too hard to create really big deals on Congressional financial details when Congress has failed to pass a working budget in several years. One might consider that a “grand bargain” as well, but perhaps it might make creating other big deals easier knowing that there is a solid budget framework to start from rather than the “bandaid” solution of continuing resolutions.
Or maybe, quite frankly, the only way for this particular Congress to get anything done is to scrap the big deals and focus instead on small bills that are easier to accomplish. I’m no political insider, but perhaps instead of trying to create grand bargains and “go for broke”… try something a little smaller to fix.