“Coming out of the election,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told CBS News this morning, “the message from the people was that they want a government that works.” Really? The election sent the same dysfunctional leadership right back in their current jobs after two years of not getting anything done. The only indication of a mandate at all is for stasis … but since it’s Inauguration Day, perhaps a little optimism is understandable:
Interestingly, Norah O’Donnell credits Republicans with a more “conciliatory” attitude coming out of the House GOP retreat last week, with their offer to pass a short-term debt-ceiling hike in exchange for an actual budget from the Senate. O’Donnell asks Cantor whether that will be a harbinger of a more productive Congress, and Cantor agrees … to a point:
“There’s some very weighty issues — some extremely challenging items that we’ve got on the agenda,” he said. “I do hope though, we can begin to get down to work as soon as possible, try and set aside the differences that have been plaguing Washington over the last couple years and actually get something done.” …
“I think times demand as much,” he said. “It’s time that Washington get with it, and that is why I believe, hopefully, the Senate can see clear to doing a budget, putting a spending plan out there for the world to see… So we can begin to unite around the things that bring us together, set aside the differences, and get some results.”
Returning to normal-order budgeting would be a huge step in the right direction, of course. Other than that, I suspect that most conservatives are worried about what kind of “things” are likely to get done in the next two years, but there are some opportunities that could benefit both parties. A comprehensive reform of tax policy for both individuals that reduces or eliminates the intervention of government in economic policy while broadening the tax base would be a very good start, but I’ll refrain from holding my breath on that, at least until we see normal-order budgeting.