We have heard a lot about gridlock in Washington and the damage that it does. The public, we are told, wants the people they elect and send there to “get something done.” And we will, no doubt, be hearing a lot more of the same thing no matter how the elections today turn out. Big Republican win will yield lots of Obama vetoes. Teeth will be gnashed, garments rent, and tears shed over the pain of gridlock. Likewise if the Republicans should falter and things go on pretty much as they have been. Which is to say, the House passes bills; Harry Reid sits on them; the professional scolds lament that “Washington is broken."
But the argument could be made – and made convincingly – that gridlock is precisely what the country needs and secretly wants. And there is proof, of a sort, that it can be a good thing, salubrious to the nations economic health, anyway. The evidence is in the deficit which was running at more than 10 percent of GDP back in the early day of the Obama administration and is now coming in at less than 3 percent. Congress wouldn’t vote any new spending (not much anyway) and Obama wouldn’t agree to much in the way of cuts.
And during this time of political stalemate, the economy grew. Not spectacularly but enough. Especially at the top end where the money is.
So, revenues increased fairly robustly and spending, for a change, did not. And the deficit declined. The classic solution to debt. Stop spending so much money and make more.
Nobody, but nobody, liked it. Not what we are told we should want from government. It is supposed to be doing big things.
Instead of what it does best, which in many cases is … nothing.