Q: At midnight on Oct. 1, the federal government furloughed hundreds of thousands of workers and partially closed many programs because Congress couldn’t pass a single spending bill. Why has the appropriations process become so contentious?
A: We have a ‘perfect storm’ situation – many elements working alongside each other to produce a kind of gridlock on steroids.
First, both parties – but particularly the Republicans – have become more heavily influenced by members with a clear ideological agenda, so compromise becomes more difficult. In essence every issue – agency appropriations, Obamacare, whatever – gets defined as a moral concern, and it’s a lot harder to find common ground there than if we were dealing with a routine difference about spending levels. The old “go along to get along” norms don’t prevail any more.
By Tom Breen