I am guardedly optimistic about the process we’re going through right now, wrt the Sequester <tm>. The part of policy-making which is so annoying is the part where the process is working — the part where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, because those darn other-siders won’t just get out of the way and let us have our way! Nobody is supposed to get their own way all the way — that’s not what pluralism and democratic institutions are about. We are supposed to hammer out workable compromises, making concessions in return for concessions on the other side that give us some of what we want. And what we’re facing right now is a very abrupt change in the way we’ve done things, and that’s really what’s causing the frustration.
Previously, the way we greased the gears of compromise was to give people on each side something they wanted to get — an increase in spending here or there, or a tax break, etc. And the way those played out tended to be things that increased the deficit. Now, we’re in a situation where increasing the deficit isn’t available. We can’t give people what they want that same way anymore. We’re going to have to give up things we want — everybody is. And this is hard, because every dollar spent, and every dollar brought in through taxes (maybe even every dollar borrowed — thinking about that) has a constituency who don’t want to lose what they’ve got. And the more dollars, the more powerful the constituency. So, there are loud voices (money and power buy volume) proclaiming that the sky is falling — recall the doom-and-gloom about the Sequester two weeks ago, and how now the word is “We never said all of this was going to happen in a day or a week.” Continue reading Gridlock is a Feature, Not a Bug.