Too many “good government” types think Washington gridlock is a correctable condition. They’re of course wrong. Gridlock is a political strategy that goes beyond stopping a Democratic president and Congress. It produces proactive rewards for the conservative Right by slowly reducing government because it stops the growth of social programs that aren’t automatically adjusted for inflation.
Nolan McCarty, the author of Polarized America, writes, “It has a conservative effect, especially on economic and social policy. First, it makes it difficult for government to respond [budgetarly] to economic shocks. Second … over the the long term the level of non-indexed benefits will converge to the levels preferred by the most fiscally conservative pivotal decision maker … .”]
“As an example of this phenomenon, consider the Federal minimum wage. While there have been numerous unsuccessful attempts to index it to the cost of living, absent new legislation, inflation erodes its real value. Absent deflation, the status quo is always moving in a conservative direction.
“Today’s partisanship has especially conservative effects because Republicans in Congress have moved far more to the right than Democrats have moved to the left. Poole and Rosenthal’s data, based on roll call votes going back over a century, show a very sharp move to the right by GOP members in just the past fifteen years. Democrats have headed left, but at a slower pace.”
True facts …