Compromise is essential for an effective Congress

March 11, 2010 — by Karthik Annaamalai

When a branch of government is defined by its ability to systematically withhold and stall major legislation, it is apparent that there is a flaw in the system.

Negotiation is needed for the government to be successful in fulfilling its duties. In the status quo, politicians are so divided into their two strict parties, Democrat and Republican, that they vote against bills proposed by the other side simply because they are from the other side. This presents a major problem because Congress has not been effective the past few months thanks to the filibuster, a form of obstruction in legislature.

The filibuster, originally created in order to protect the rights of the minority and to galvanize debate, has become a method to delay a bill from being passed. In past examples, politicians just read from a phone book to waste time rather than generating debate, which is the true, original purpose of the filibuster. In the 21st century, senators simply send the bill back to the drawing board without any meaningful collaboration or discussion.

The root of the problems lies in the fact that Democrats and Republicans are not compromising. For example, the recent health care bill has been stuck in Congress for the past few months but has not made any progress because Democrats and Republicans refuse to find middle ground.

A key flaw in President Obama’s proposed health care bill is that more Americans are against the legisilation than for it. During George W. Bush’s presidency, he fell in the same hole as Obama, failing to reform pensions. Yet once Bush learned the advantages of cooperating with the Democrats and the people, he was able to pass many more bills, such as the “No Child Left Behind Act,” which was the biggest change to the school system for over 40 years.

As can be seen in the case of Bush, in order to combat this major flaw in Congress, politicians need to take further measures in attempting to cross party lines and reach a common ground.

Although the health care plan has been circulating in Congress for the past few months, the government has not been totally ineffective. In the beginning of Obama’s presidency, when the nation needed another economic stimulus package, the Republicans and Democrats showed signs of negotiations and passed the TARP bill within a few weeks. This quick action led to the prevention of a higher unemployment rate and helped stabilize the economy.

When the situation is dire enough, members of Congress seem to be able to work together. With that said, politicians still need to take steps toward striking a balance and crossing party lines in order for Congress to become a functional branch of the government once again.

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