Mark Ballard: Negotiation, Key Compromise to the Success of a Dysfunctional Congress | Marc Ballard
Amazon is selling t-shirts that say “Joe Biden Sucks” for $17.95. There’s a “Let’s Go Brandon” t-shirt listing the president’s big hits like the border crisis and inflation. Both come in a variety of colors.
U.S. Representative Clay Higgins, the Lafayette Republican seeking his fourth term in Congress, last week sent an email to his supporters: forces that seek to destroy us.
Following the system established by the founders, Biden signed into law the Cut Inflation Act last week, which will eventually bring consumer prices down a notch, includes the largest U.S. effort yet to combat global warming and provides more health care to low and middle income people.
In fact, despite near-total opposition from Republicans in a Congress that has an equal number of supporters in the U.S. Senate, Biden has accomplished a lot since taking office 19 months ago.
Although the president was rocked by both left and right as ineffective and weak, this dysfunctional Congress passed legislation to spend $1.9 trillion to bolster an economy stunted by the pandemic; providing $1 trillion to rehabilitate the country’s neglected highways, bridges and ports; facilitate access to medical care for veterans exposed to toxins; and improving semiconductor manufacturing to counter China — all before the Cut Inflation Act was signed into law on Tuesday.
Biden didn’t get what he initially sought in either measure, but the bills contain much of his vision and were passed in an atmosphere of harsh personal invective.
The key, Democratic US Representative Troy Carter said in an interview last week, is not to take criticism from opponents personally, but to keep talking. Eventually, both parties can find points on which they agree.
“It gives us the opportunity to put real, solid, concrete resources behind this, not rhetoric. So the reality is we’re a lot further along than we’ve ever been before,” said Carter, from New Orleans.
For Louisiana, the Reducing Inflation Act provides rebates for installing appliances and repairing homes to increase energy efficiency and therefore lower monthly utility bills. The law also allows the federal government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare, which will reduce prescription costs for seniors. To help pay for all of this, the new law sets a corporate tax rate of at least 15% to cater to companies that post large profits in their accounts but pay little or no tax, which, according to the business community, threatens expansion investments.
Help in passing some of the earlier bills during the Biden administration came from Republican U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge. He supported bills for infrastructure spending and the expansion of veterans’ health care, but not the Inflation Reduction Act.
Cassidy passes up few opportunities to criticize Biden and his policies. Cassidy accuses Biden of slowing oil and gas exploration, which the senator says has driven up gas prices and inflation. Still, Cassidy was among eight Republican senators who backed five Biden bills, The New York Times counted.
Practical politics rather than partisan rhetoric refers to the nation’s history.
Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, for example, negotiated with a majority Democratic Congress to pass the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which provided $1.1 billion to kick-start construction of the nation’s interstate highway system. .
The program Eisenhower envisioned was defeated, tweaked several times in negotiations before being passed by Congress over the objections of powerful US Senator from Louisiana Russell Long, who feared raising gasoline taxes to pay for it.
Eisenhower signed the bill on June 29, 1956, from Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital, where he was recovering from bowel surgery. News that day, however, focused on actress Marilyn Monroe’s marriage to playwright Arthur Miller.
The founders envisioned a dysfunctional Congress. James Madison, the principal drafter of the American Constitution, written in the Federalist Papers: “Ambition must be made to thwart ambition.”
The Constitution dispersed powers among the branches of government but created incentives for politicians to work together. The design was to ensure that relationships would always be on the move and that would force politicians to compromise on critical issues.
“We didn’t get everything we wanted, we rarely get it, but that’s part of the bargain,” Carter said of the impressive bundle of laws passed by this Congress. “It’s not a ‘Mission Accomplished’ sign; it’s a “Mission Continues” sign.