Congress The divide is growing

Published 1:03 am Sunday, November 27, 2011

Americans, it turns out, had a right to be skeptical of the so-called “supercommittee.”

The very idea that 12 members — six Democrats and six Republicans — were hand-chosen to drum up more than a trillion dollars in savings in four months was a stretch to begin with.

And it sent a terrible message. Congress — a body with 435 elected representatives and 100 elected senators — could not agree on a deficit plan. Instead of working through it, those 535 ceded their power and responsibility to 12 members. As divided as the entire Congress is, those dozen were equally as divided. As many predicted, the group admitted failure on Monday. The divides were so wide, the abyss so deep that when either side made an offer, the other rejected that offer. The “Divide of the Dozen,” though, is simply a microcosm of the overall chasm America is facing when dealing with Congress.

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Diagnosing the divide is simple; treating that disease, though, is proving futile.

One side believes that the American taxpayer and businesses are stressed enough already by the burdens of taxes. They preach fiscal responsibility. They preach maximum freedom in the marketplace to succeed or fail on the merits. Success in business, they believe, will translate into success in the American economic market. More business, more employees, more taxes, a better way of life. They believe in low taxes for everyone.

The other side believes in social justice. They believe that the federal government has a responsibility to take care of those who, for whatever reason, cannot or refuse to take care of their responsibilities. They believe in taxing the producers and doling out money as they see fit. They believe in higher taxes on the wealthiest among us — who already carry the lion’s share of the American tax freight — and government spending to stimulate the economy.

In America’s two-party political system, those are the options. Neither side is willing to budge. Whether it be to protect their own political careers by shoring up the base, or toeing the party line, compromise and deal-making are miles apart.

And who suffers? The American people, who are just about worn down by the ineptness of those people we put in office. The people are being worn down by infighting. Worn down by political chicanery. Worn down by lies. Worn down by Washington, D.C.

While we are not at all surprised by the supercommittee’s failure, it should still come across as an alarm bell. If any city knows the consequences of when two sides become so helplessly deadlocked in opposition, it is Vicksburg.

And we all know how that turned out.