By Lloyd Brown
Two friends, one a Democrat and one a conservative, have told me recently that Republicans in Congress need to compromise so the government can “get things done.”
One of them actually said it is better to do something than nothing.
No. It is not.
Doing the wrong thing can be much worse than doing nothing.
This is especially true when you are talking about trying to influence the nation’s economy.
Contrary to popular liberal belief, politicians do not “run the economy.” Decisions made daily by millions of Americans, each pursuing his own best interests, determine the course of the economy.
However, politicians are quick to take credit when the economy is doing well and expert at dodging and blaming free enterprise when it goes bad.
The economy goes up and down with or without politicians meddling, much like the average temperature on the Earth fluctuates.
More often than not, when government acts to help, the action is either too late or harmful.
Generally, liberals want to spend more of other people’s money, a course of action that they fantasize will help the economy, while conservatives want to spend less.
Compromise is only an option when both sides are going in the same direction and the question is how far to go. If you want to drive 500 miles in one day on your vacation and your wife wants to drive 300 miles, you drive 400. Or, in my house, 300. That’s compromise.
But if two people are in a car at an intersection and one wants to turn left but the other wants to go right, what is the compromise?
I don’t recall liberals being interested in compromise from 2000-2006, when they were working day and night to derail President George W. Bush’s plans.
After liberals gained control of Congress in 2006, the economy began turning south. They had virtually complete control of the government after 2008 and didn’t need any compromising. Yet, they didn’t fix anything.
If they couldn’t fix it by themselves, why do they need conservatives to help them?
You know the answer: So they can share the blame when things go wrong.
America’s voters apparently have chosen to live in a welfare state. But the majority still cannot tyrannize a minority – at least as long as the Constitution is in effect.
Therefore, conservatives in Congress have a duty to represent their minority constituents and oppose bad policy.
The nation is $16 trillion in debt. The government does not even take in enough money to pay for interest on that debt and entitlements. It must borrow the money it spends for everything else – from the most banal bureaucracy to the Department of Defense. National defense is the government’s primary role and it is fulfilling that role with money it borrows from other nations, including potential enemies such as China.
That is considered bad policy by the millions of Americans who voted for responsible government.
Things are bad, but they can get worse.
Sometimes, gridlock is good.
Lloyd Brown was in the newspaper business nearly 50 years, beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville. He can be reached by email here.