Monday, September 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Governing in Decline

There's increasing evidence that at a time when we need good governance, there is less of it due to rock-hard partisanship.

Governing in Decline

It strikes me both ironic and sad that at a time we the people need government to provide sound leadership in the face of an uncertain economy, we instead get political pandering, zero compromise and a growing sense of gridlock.

In Washington, well, I don't have to tell you about Washington. It is increasingly sending a message to the nation that its live-in-a-bubble "leaders" have more interest in their turf, constituencies and partisan goals than in what's best for the country.

The no-compromise attitudes on both sides of the debt ceiling crisis (Obama refusing a temporary patch; Republicans refusing to consider closing tax loopholes or raising taxes on the rich) serves only their politics and not the people they were elected to serve.

In Minnesota, a state shut down by partisanship, former Vice President Walter Mondale says this: "I never remember a time when we had such deadlock, paralysis, almost unrelenting rigidity...something happened to shatter that essential ability to compromise and build for the future,"

And this is in the Midwest, where people are generally known for their ability to get along. This piece in the Minneapolis Star Tribune suggests compromise has become "heresey" among pols.

In Pennsylvania, not a single Democrat voted for the new state budget. Really? There's nothing the state's spending that Democrats support?

And the online news service capitolwire.com this week reports that for the first time in 30 years money for legislative staff and operations (which, in my view, should be slashed) is not being equally shared by both parties. Majority Republicans in the House and Senate get more than the Democrats.

I know Philadelphia government is far from a model of excellence, but I was struck by a statement from Mayor Nutter yesterday urging Washington to resolve the debt ceiling issue and stop playing its "destructive game of `chicken.'"

Then he said this: "In Philadelphia, we closed a $2.5 billion budget gap through a combination of spending cuts and temporary revenue enchancements [read taxes] -- a shared sacrifice that did not decimate the services that so many rely upon, but also did not harm our ability to attract and retain jobs. Washington must take the same balanced approach."

I've written before that too many pols talking about "jobs, jobs, jobs" are talking about their own. That's a major reason we get the governing we do, and THE major reason our democracy's in decline. Grrr.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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