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October 22, 2014

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Sun Editorial:

A troubling time

Stalemate, gridlock in Washington keep nation from moving ahead

A sobering question was posed to us this week: When future historians look back at this period in American history, what will they say?

This is a difficult time for America, with serious issues facing the country. It will take leadership to move ahead, yet we haven’t seen that in Washington; instead, the nation is stuck in partisan gridlock, unable to take bold and decisive action. Unfortunately, blind ideology, pushed by Republican leaders in Congress, has ruled. The result is that little has been accomplished.

Two respected political scholars, Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute and Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution, recently issued a blistering critique of Washington, saying the dysfunction was the worst they had seen in more than 40 years of work. Although they note that both parties have played games, they say the “core of the problem lies with the Republican Party,” which they call “an insurgent outlier in American politics” due to its extremism.

In recent essays and a new book, “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks,” Ornstein and Mann say such extremism has pushed the nation further from finding solutions to the its problems. It’s not hard to figure out why. Consider how far apart the parties are on a few issues.

• Jobs: President Barack Obama has wanted to expand federal programs to build highways and other infrastructure projects as a way to boost employment; the Republicans have balked at the cost and have instead demanded tax cuts, which have never proven to be an economic elixir. The resulting impasse has resulted in stalled growth and a lackluster economic recovery.

• Debt: Democrats have made offers to start cutting the nation’s tremendous debt. Republicans have refused and held out because they say the offers aren’t big enough. Last year, some Republicans said they would reject a deal in which they received $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in new revenue. And don’t forget the games the GOP played on the debt ceiling that resulted in a downgrade of the nation’s credit rating, which hasn’t help anyone. In the meantime, the debt continues to climb.

• Health care: Democrats celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling that upheld the Affordable Care Act with its ruling this month, which means millions of Americans will be able to obtain health insurance and see a doctor. Republicans, including presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney, have vowed to repeal the law. As we have noted before, the law is far from perfect and needs to be improved, but if Republicans do repeal the law, what will they do to help? They’ve provided no way forward.

We could go on through the issues, but the situation is clear: There are real problems that aren’t being addressed because of the all-or-nothing attitude that has overtaken Washington.

The nation didn’t get into this situation overnight, and it won’t get out of it overnight either. It’s going to take a long, sustained effort, but Americans have been known for their ability to work together and find solutions to accomplish major tasks.

However, if something doesn’t change soon, and if people don’t start finding ways to compromise and work together, we hesitate to consider what future historians will have to say. It won’t be good.

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  1. The sobering question is: Will there be any AMERICAN citizens that are historians who can look back? Extremism: zero interest rates for years, massive deficit spending, increasing ineffective welfare programs, hyping the "value" of an education, hyping the same old things that haven't worked.

  2. I suggest that the path to stability, harmony and trust will be charted by those inspired by fair media, that peoples champion and conscience of nations holding history of inspiring citizens to gather overwhelming public opinion in order to force needed changes!
    We must once again scrutinize media ownership, seeking opportunities for conflict of interest and threat to the concept of democracy.

  3. Vidi: Do the math. Something has to give. Taxing extended to confiscating the entire net worth of the 1% would put only a SMALL DENT in the deficit. So where do we cut spending?

  4. I suggest that the path to stability, harmony and trust will be charted by those inspired by fair media, that peoples champion and conscience of nations holding history of inspiring citizens to gather overwhelming public opinion in order to force needed changes!

  5. It is time to end the meme indoctrination of our nation.

    For any true changes to take place in politics, we need a collective deconditioning from the strategic meme political viruses.

    Bring freedom to the minds of the populous!

  6. Many of us in this nation have moved on. We either have foreclosed,short saled or refinanced our homes. We understand that having a job with less is ok just as long as we have one. Many are tired of the same thing over and over about repealing healthcare,can't balance the budgets in our states while giving the rich more tax cuts because they have done nothing to boost the economy etc.. Sounding like a broken record already.

  7. Here is a lifeline for Red Rocky - swish - missed it eh? Well so did your propaganda! Go Obama Go!!!

  8. Thank you stepfenrblv and notacon for very good comments.

    That's 3 good contributors for my reading today so far.

  9. What historians will say is that this was the run up to the 2nd Civil War.

  10. Re Red Rocky. Another GOP apologist taking up valuable space with your FOX/Limbaugh screeds. You and Roslenda giving us all a left,right,left combination of right wing crap. How about some answers to your own questions? Some ideas on how to do things more effectively. What would Bishop Mitt do besides the same old GOP boilerplate: lower taxes for the "job creators", cutting the deficit with no revenue for government (the Norquist agenda), massive defense spending to confront the boogeyman of tomorrow (where exactly does that money come from?). The list goes on and on...still with no solutions, only hyperbole and rhetoric. Get a grip.

  11. To my fellow bloggers,
    What will historians say about this time in our country's history books? I venture to say they will publish that "America used to be great, but not now.", "America used to be moral and righteous and looked out for their neighbor, but not now," "America used to be the leader and an example for other countries follow suit, but not now." This generation will be pitied for what it will have to endure because of this con-man in the white house. Just an old cop reflecting,

    Gordon Martines.............curre.org

  12. Calling people un-American and traitors will not resolve our problems. We at a point in time that is detrimental to all. Kudos to John McCain for standing up and defending Americans being targeted.

  13. @GordonMartines,

    Thanks for your service in the public sector and a great post at 2:16pm.