“Dysfunctional,” “gridlock,” “Washington can’t get things done.” “We need to get things done quickly and you know that is not the way Washington does it.” On and on the laments from the CNN commentators go.
As I watch this, waiting for the President to enter the House of Representatives, I see clearly why “so many of the American people say that Washington is broke,” as the political pundit put it.
The very fact that the President must walk into the chamber, the fact that, for instance, John Boehner is not giving this speech, the leader of the largest party in the House, is exactly why this scenario does not, will not and may not ever be made to work.
The President commands none of the votes in either house. When this speech is over, he’ll go back to the White House and the members of both houses will begin to carve his recommendations into fine shavings.
OK, the speech begins.
“There should be nothing controversial in this plan.” “You should pass this jobs plan right away.” The President repeats this phrase over and over, demonstrating that he completely lacks the power to have his proposals turned into law. He is reduced to a supplicant.
In the situation as Washington is set up now, all the President can do is ask. He is virtually having to beg. If he sat in the House of Representatives as the leader of the largest party, he would not need to ask.
“You should pass this bill right away.” The President pleads and his listeners appear resistant, standoffish, almost bored. This whole speech is not a bully pulpit. It’s one man begging a crowd.
This makes no sense to me. “This is America. Every child deserves a great future and we can give that to them if we act now. This plan will put people to work right now.” Sad, sad, sad. Why should he even have to ask?
“No more earmarks, boondoggles, bridges to nowhere. We’re cutting the red tape to see these projects get started. You should pass this bill right away.” But they won’t.
“Pass this jobs bill and thousands of teachers in every state will go back to work.” “Pass this bill and put our teachers back in the classroom where they belong.” But they’ll probably argue it into the ground.
“Now is not the time to raise an exception … which is why you should pass this bill right away.” On and on it goes. No wonder so many people say they’re frustrated and the American public so often comes off disappointed at a lack of action.
Why does the President just not say: “The fact that I don’t sit as the leader of the largest party in the House of Representatives means that I cannot get you to pass the bills I want. I have no ability to deliver on any proposed program of legislation. I do not control the means of passing anything.
“And you do not control the office of the most powerful political leader in the land. You do not have the means of translating your laws into action. You have no ability to deliver on your bills.
“Power is fractured and gridlock is the result. I declare that we are in a permanent standoff.”
I propose a constitutional amendment that would have the President be the leader of the largest party in the House of Representatives and eliminate the second house (the Senate) as a useless appendage.
America, if you want to get things done instead of being in permanent deadlock, that is the way to go.