Tuesday, November 3, 2015

two cheers for democracy

Please forgive me for appropriating the title of a book of essays by E.M. Forster, but it expresses my views on the recent budget deal just signed into law by President Obama.

The cheers are merited because our often gridlocked government in Washington finally did something necessary and worthwhile -- rescuing the national debt from political hostage status until 2017 and providing higher spending caps for both domestic and defense spending for two years. It was a Compromise, that judicious blending of ideas from competing sides that is so necessary for our political system but so hard to achieve in these days of hyperpartisanship.

The cheers a limited, however, because this deal leaves much still to be done: the actual appropriations; unfinished legislation on highways, immigration, the ExIm Bank, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, and so forth. One speaker of the House sacrificed his career to enable this initial agreement. It remains to be seen whether his successor will show a profile in courage.

By the way, it also wouldn't hurt if Congress would reclaim the war power it often talks about but rarely acts on by voting something approving or forbidding U.S. military actions in Syria.

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