With the House of Representatives soon to be under Republican control, the government will be divided. The two parties, divergent as they are on ideological grounds, will likely not compromise on much. Such leads to a situation often derided as “gridlock.”
Those on the left, right and in the middle opposed to such gridlock say it is not good for our country. They argue that it means nothing will get done. But given the amount of things done over the years that have added to our massive debt, there may be something to be said for government not doing anything.
Republicans may argue that this gridlock is not acceptable. Their argument is that they must gain the Senate and the presidency in 2012. Then, they can go through with their agenda. It’s an agenda they claim, as they have done before with no significant results, will mean an end to wasteful government spending and a reduction in both the size of our government and its debt. But many of those same Republicans, when asked over the last week since the elections, have been hard pressed to spell out what they specifically would cut to make a significant dent in the debt. All too often they have resorted to the old “cut discretionary spending” mantra. The problem with that is, discretionary spending only makes up a small portion of overall federal spending.
The bulk of spending is composed of entitlements and defense. Entitlements are non-discretionary, and defense is considered discretionary. But many Republicans do not view military spending as discretionary — hence part of the problem. And Democrats love entitlements. Republicans, themselves, are not typically willing to note how they would go about cutting entitlements, either. If either side, given their unfortunate track record, were to gain back control of both political branches, the spending will undoubtably continue to rise, along with the debt.
At least with gridlock, neither side can get much done. On the upside, the only way to decrease government spending is to decrease what government does. Maybe gridlock is, for now, the best, albeit less than perfect, solution to decrease what government does. That is unless Republicans actually follow through on decreasing spending. Don’t hold your breath.