Hey, No Fair! Governing is Hard!

Jared Bernstein

Jared Bernstein Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

First, over at WaPo, check out my latest summary of the CBO score of the Republican’s just downright nasty, greedy “health care plan.”

Next, I agreed with David Leonhardt’s useful bit of history here, wherein he deconstructs the corner into which Republicans have painted themselves:

How did the party’s leaders put themselves in this position? The short answer is that they began believing their own hype and set out to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.

I agree, but I also think there’s something more prosaic going on here, and that is that it’s just way easier not to govern. That’s especially the case with health care, of which the politics are just wholly unforgiving.

Given today’s political dynamics, it is so much easier to be in permanent campaign mode, stoking your base, throwing endless spitballs at the folks trying to legislate. Moreover, these are precisely the things contemporary Republicans are good at: endless spin, endless shade throwing, fact-free opposition research, and very effectively–much more so than Democrats–applying those tools to getting elected.

You see the problem, however. Once you get so good at these techniques that the voters you’ve hoodwinked put you in power, you have to govern. That requires policy chops, real facts, and political compromise, all of which go in exactly the opposite direction of what got you into power in the first place.

I’m not sure where this ends, but my hope is that enough people in the electorate eventually decide they’ve had enough of the blatant contradictions to which they’re being subjected, e.g., “we’re going to give you an awesome health care plan that provides everyone with better, cheaper coverage” or for that matter, pretty much any other campaign pledge other than cutting taxes for the wealthy.

But until then, we will continue to be subjected to governance by those who are masters of the campaign but have no idea what to do when they win.

***

This was reposted from On the Economy.

Jared Bernstein joined the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in May 2011 as a Senior Fellow.  From 2009 to 2011, Bernstein was the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, and a member of President Obama’s economic team. Prior to joining the Obama administration, Bernstein was a senior economist and the director of the Living Standards Program at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Between 1995 and 1996, he held the post of deputy chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor. He is the author and co-author of numerous books, including “Crunch: Why Do I Feel So Squeezed?” and nine editions of “The State of Working America.”

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Failing Bridges Hold Public Hostage

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) gave the public just a few hours’ notice before closing a major bridge in March, citing significant safety concerns.

The West Seattle Bridge functioned as an essential component of  the city’s local and regional transportation network, carrying 125,000 travelers a day while serving Seattle’s critical maritime and freight industries. Closing it was a huge blow to the city and its citizens. 

Yet neither Seattle’s struggle with bridge maintenance nor the inconvenience now facing the city’s motorists is unusual. Decades of neglect left bridges across the country crumbling or near collapse, requiring a massive investment to keep traffic flowing safely.

When they opened it in 1984, officials predicted the West Seattle Bridge would last 75 years.

But in 2013, cracks started appearing in the center span’s box girders, the main horizontal support beams below the roadway. These cracks spread 2 feet in a little more than two weeks, prompting the bridge’s closure.

And it’s still at risk of falling.  

The city set up an emergency alert system so those in the “fall zone” could be quickly evacuated if the bridge deteriorates to the point of collapse.

More than one-third of U.S. bridges similarly need repair work or replacement, a reminder of America’s urgent need to invest in long-ignored infrastructure.

Fixing or replacing America’s bridges wouldn’t just keep Americans moving. It would also provide millions of family-supporting jobs for steel and cement workers, while also boosting the building trades and other industries.

With bridges across the country close to failure and millions unemployed, America needs a major infrastructure campaign now more than ever.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work