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Politics

Gridlock: Is the country governable?

From the New York Times:

Mr. Bayh, the centrist Democrat from Indiana, lodged his complaint about excessive partisanship and Congressional gridlock on Monday by way of explaining his decision not to seek re-election. But he is hardly alone in sounding an alarm about the long-term budgetary outlook, which has Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security costs growing at unsustainable rates and an inefficient tax system that cannot keep up.

“I used to think it would take a global financial crisis to get both parties to the table, but we just had one,” said G. William Hoagland, who was a fiscal policy adviser to Senate Republican leaders and a witness to past bipartisan budget summits. “These days I wonder if this country is even governable.”

On Thursday, the President will sign an executive order establishing the 18-member National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. He also will name as co-chairmen Alan K. Simpson, a former Republican Senate leader from Wyoming, and Erskine Bowles, a moderate Democrat from North Carolina who, as President Bill Clinton’s White House chief of staff, brokered a 1997 balanced budget agreement with Congressional Republicans. Here’s what Simpson had to say:

“There isn’t a single sitting member of Congress — not one — that doesn’t know exactly where we’re headed,” Mr. Simpson said in a telephone interview Tuesday just before word of his role got out. “And to use the politics of fear and division and hate on each other — we are at a point right now where it doesn’t make a damn whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican if you’ve forgotten you’re an American.”

Amen.