The Destructive Status Quo in Washington
This month, the American people voted for a continuation of the status quo in Washington. Unfortunately, this means the American people also voted to allow Democrats in the Senate and White House to keep avoiding their basic duties to the American people.
First, passage of the federal budget, something that hasn't happened since 2009, is unlikely in the first session of the 113th Congress. To quote the probable incoming Senate Budget Committee chairwoman in The Hill:
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) confirmed Thursday that she will seek the chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee next year but told The Hill that she cannot commit to doing a budget.
This opens up the possibility that Senate Democrats will avoiding [sic] passing a budget resolution for the fourth year in a row.
According to the article, Democrats are claiming that the Budget Control Act and a potential "fiscal cliff" deal "could preclude having to pass a Senate budget next year." Murray gave the line perfectly:
I am committed to working with our committee and with our Congress to put a budget in place but there are a lot of questions in front of us: What happens in the next two weeks, six weeks, year? Does the White House and the leadership come together on some solution to the budget that we have right now that precludes a budget being written next year? ... I have no idea.
Never mind that not passing a budget resolution through the Senate is against the law. Of course, everyday people are held accountable when they break the law, whereas senators are apparently able to continue on in the dereliction of the duties without consequence. According to Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), the entirety of the Senate should be in jail for breaking the law.
Second, President Obama is still pushing for higher taxes on the rich, as shown in his first major domestic address since re-election. Given how spending has gone from 20% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 25% of GDP in the last four years, raising the equivalent of 1.88% of expected spending over the next decade won't do anything significant to reduce the deficit.
Lastly, Congress is continuing to look at how to best avoid cutting spending. With hundreds of billions of dollars in spending reductions and cuts supposed to take place in the new year, the establishment leaders in both parties are trying to overturn the Budget Control Act and Medicare payment cuts. Apparently, not following laws which were meant to instill some semblance of fiscal discipline and exert at least some economic restraint is viewed as "leadership" in both parties.
In the next several years, America seems likely to face an existential fiscal crisis. Unfortunately, the American people appear satisfied with the status quo, a status quo that has led to massive unemployment, unaffordable spending, and a corrupt tax code. The American people regularly say they want these to change...but this election's results say something different. Will the status quo doom America to a future like Greece? Only time will tell.
Kavon W. Nikrad is the editor-in-chief of the campaign and elections website Race42012.com and a 2011-2012 policy fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.