A budget fight with no winners

The budget and tax negotiations on Capitol Hill remind me of E.J. Dionne’s prescient book from more than two decades ago: “Why Americans Hate Politics.”

This is just the latest round of legislative death kabuki, in which small special interests rule and narrow partisanship governs, crowding out the national interest, which was E.J.’s basic point many years ago about our politics.

I agree with Ed; this always ends in some sort of compromise that was visible from the start and with the public’s faith in our government, now in single digits, eroded some more. It all reminds me of a hockey fight, in which the participants know their roles and dutifully throw down their gloves to go a few rounds. The difference is the audience no longer enjoys the bloodlust.

Where I am less optimistic than Ed is in his belief that an election will solve anything. As both of us have argued, our elections rarely offer any blueprint for governing. That’s why presidential terms have become about the first 300 days; that’s the only window in which big things happen. After year one, it seems to grind to a partisan halt.

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