Obama hyperpartisan complains about non-Obama hyperpartisans
Pot, kettle; kettle, pot.
Last week, Harvard Business School hosted a conference in New York to talk about how the U.S. could continue to support “high and rising living standards for Americans” in the face of global competition. It was a lively discussion, leading to many good, if familiar, economic-policy ideas for increasing productivity in the U.S.
Unfortunately, this conversation largely ignored the key constraint to many of the policy recommendations: the rise of hyperpolarization in Congress. If business leaders want better economic policy, they need to first help elect more moderates to Congress.
Peter, Peter, Peter. When the voters spoke in 2010, it was for a reason: it was a national-level attempt at triage.
2010 was a political earthquake: the electorate, having observed the performance of the Administration and the Democrat controlled Congress, instead voted to favor gridlock over failed policies, government intrusion, and crony capitalism.
While voters prefer improvement (and not just hope, or change—for the worse), gridlock, like the physician’s imperative to do no harm, is preferred over the national-level regression the Administration led.
Orszag is one of those iron triangle guys (think tanks/academia, government, and industry), who crosses back and forth—and tries to stay in the game, hence his columns—as needed. He fits the revolving door profile: he’s one of those types the President said he wouldn’t hire, then did hire, and who has subsequently left to return to “the private sector.”
Here’s more from Peter on the hyperpartisan Congress (emphasis added):
Corporate leaders who are interested in this [policy] agenda should therefore walk across the Charles River from the business school to the Kennedy School of Government and ask how they can help to elect more moderates to Congress who could carry out the laundry list of policy recommendations they support.
In particular, the decline in moderates in Congress — exemplified most recently by the announcement from Senator Olympia Snowe that she will retire — and the associated rise of hyperpolarization impedes policy making.
Nolan McCarty, a political scientist at Princeton University, has recently examined the issue and concluded that polarization substantially impairs legislative productivity. McCarty writes that, under one way of analyzing the question, “the least polarized congressional term produces a whopping 166 percent more legislation than the most polarized.”
Peter, again consider the 2010 election. A vote for a Republican was a vote against the insanity of the legislation the Democrat controlled Congress created (and the President signed). And are you really saying we don’t already have enough legislation?! Maybe you could get behind the Administration’s non-legislative solutions like Executive Orders or legislation by regulation from the Administration’s myriad extra-legal czars?
So what does Orszag think business leaders should do? (again, emphasis added)
The most realistic approach is to work to elect moderate representatives in House districts that do not swing hard one way or the other and moderate senators in states that are relatively evenly divided politically.
The Senate hasn’t produced a budget in 1000 days and you want business to work to elect more moderates in the House?
I guess it all depends on how you define moderate. In Peter’s case, I suspect it means someone who will provide the lockstep support President Obama’s agenda needs.