News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Politicians benefit from myth of 'gridlock,' lets them save face. ObamaCare exemplifies how easily big changes are made by US gov., and that 'now or never' lurches don't pay-NY Times, Cowen

12/21/13, "Don’t Mistake This for Gridlock," NY Times, Economic View, Tyler Cowen

 "It’s easy to see the evidence for it in the daily headlines....Still, the American political system allows for more change than its current reputation suggests. The Affordable Care Act offers an example of how American government sometimes makes sweeping changes — not to everyone’s satisfaction, of course — followed by years of bitter contests at the margins. The enmity and duration of these fights produce impressions of sheer gridlock that are strong and often reinforced; thus the narrative of political immobility is easy to accept....Lunging and lurching forward with big changes, then enduring periods of backlash, consolidation and frustration, is often a better description of our political system than is “gridlock,” which is too unidimensional a concept to capture the reality....Of course, gridlock can save us from major mistakes, and sometimes we should wish for more of it. One problem, however, is that the fear of eventual gridlock can make our policy lurches too hasty and ill-considered. It might have been better to think through the Affordable Care Act or the fiscal stimulus more carefully, but a now-or-never logic discourages such introspection. Indeed, subsequent improvement of the legislation has proved politically difficult in both cases. Beyond economic policy, there is further evidence that gridlock does not rule America. Since the start of this century, the government has fought wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — truly major undertakings — and significantly expanded the surveillance state, as shown by revelations about the National Security Agency. These policies have economic implications, even if they wouldn’t be described as economic policies in the usual sense of the term. Politicians have reason to let the myth of extreme gridlock persist. Leaders like to pledge support for some ideas of their more extreme supporters without wishing to actually enact such changes, which would alienate many other voters. An appearance of gridlock makes it easier to save face. To many partisans it feels like gridlock, but in reality moderate voters are getting their way. As 2013 comes to a close, it may appear that economic policies are frozen into place. But let’s keep this broader perspective in mind: It’s a good time to wonder which surprising and sudden lurches the new year might bring, and whether we will bypass gridlock without even noticing."

"TYLER COWEN is a professor of economics at George Mason University."


Ed. note: I had to eliminate normal paragraphs. Google/Blogger didn't like this post. It put several inches between the original paragraphs. My choice was to leave it like that or mash it all together. It's one of the things google does when they don't like certain posts.


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