No win in battle over the budget

Surveys show people approve of their own congressman but disapprove of Congress in general have come home to roost. The disconnect in the statistics shows up when all those home-district-approved representatives and senators butt heads with one another.

The result is an all-or-nothing-at-all government that is dysfunctional at best and a national disaster at its worst. And, we include President Barack Obama here, too, with his no-negotiations stance throughout the budget and debt standoff of the past few weeks. The people’s Congress, dysfunctional and confused as it is, has problems with the president’s policies and needs to be heard. But majority rule also applies.

The sole pleasure in seeing the can kicked down the road to the dead of winter is the preservation for a time of a functioning nation.

The ongoing winner-take-all mentality at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, from the Oval Office to the two chambers of Congress which are split into three factions now, did not change. The underlying issues that cause the nation to be on the brink of economic disaster requiring the eternal raising of its borrowing authority did not change.

Obamacare did not change. The fact the federal government is involved in way more than it should be did not change. The fact spending has been out of control for a generation didn’t change. And none of those issues can be changed overnight.

The fiscal can was kicked down the road last fall and again in the spring, all with promises of supercommittees and various negotiating schemes to occur. All fell apart rapidly, with more angst and dysfunction as the next deadline approached on the nation’s default.

The underlying issues were laid bare this time. A nation that borrows too much on every dollar’s worth of revenue it brings in has to decide what it really wants. That will take actual compromise, not a winner-take-all attitude, where some suffering will be spread among all factions.

But we’d assume compromise remains impossible, given the collapses every time the real issues started being discussed. And we’d assume theater is more important to the White House and Congress, even when they recognize they’re doing nothing constructive and are not willing to push the economic disaster button.

We’ll be back at this again in January, with another default looming in February unless both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue can compromise.

We hope for better but really have no expectations rooted in reality. Here’s to a January surprise.