Why Bipartisanship is Bad and Gridlock is Good

The conventional wisdom surrounding politics is that bipartisanship is good.  You hear many political leaders talk about the need for Republicans and Democrats to work together to solve America’s problems.  But a newly released report from the Cato Institute challenges that assertion and argues that partisan gridlock is better.

Cato’s Marcus Ethridge argues that gridlock prevents special interests from infiltrating government.  The Daily Caller‘s Jonathan Strong explains Ethridge’s argument:

To support his argument, Ethridge contrasts the longtime efforts of “progressives” to streamline the lawmaking process by delegating broad authorities to bureaucrats in the executive branch with the consequences of their technocratic vision.

The result, Ethridge argues, is that special interests, especially those backed by significant amounts of money, are better able to infiltrate the technocratic process than the dirty, difficult popular branch of government, Congress.

“Decades of experience and research on interest groups and the workings of administrative policymaking clearly demonstrate that the more efficiently responsive the government is, the greater the influence of interests that enjoy the political advantages of superior organization,” Ethridge says.

In 2010, the Obama administration instituted 43 new regulations, each imposing a cost on the economy of at least $100 million. The total cost of these rules was $26.5 billion. Yet only a handful of these “major” regulations received any significant public attention.

Behind the scenes, though, an army of lobbyists, lawyers and political activists tracked every move the Obama administration made, exhorting and sometimes threatening agencies with lawsuits to get them to bend to their will.

That means the special interests best equipped to organize in Washington are having the most impact on thousands of new “laws” most Americans never hear about.

Although just about everyone complains that there isn’t enough bipartisanship, perhaps there has been too much.  Both parties have greatly expanded the power of the federal government by expanding entitlement programs, limiting personal freedom, and enacting complicated regulations.
Later in his report, Marcus Ethridge states:
“The persistence of the progressive complaint about social and economic equality is perplexing in light of the policies and programs that were adopted between the time of Teddy Roosevelt and Paul Krugman. In the decades between 1910 and today, U.S. society experienced the imposition of and massive expansion of the income tax, extensive government regulation of the private sector, and a series of entitlement programs enacted during the New Deal and the Great Society eras that now account for most of a very large government budget. If a time machine could bring TR to the present, he would doubtlessly be stunned to find contemporary commentators writing bitterly about ‘savage inequalities’ and a ‘permanent lower class’ after the successful adoption of so many landmark progressive initiatives,”

These “progressive” initiatives have been enacted by both parties, and they have allowed special interest groups and other parasites to feed off of big government.  Gridlock keeps the government from intruding on out lives and keeps the parasites from feeding off of others’ hard work.


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