The budget cuts in the 2011 debt-limit deal were designed to be so distasteful they would force Republicans and Democrats to compromise.
The deal established a supercommittee charged with recommending $1.2 trillion in savings or additional revenue to avoid automatic spending cuts for both defense and domestic programs.
As the clocked ticked down toward the deadline that November, though, supercommittee members had effectively thrown up their hands, and each side was blaming the other for the stalemate.
The sad thing is that gridlock is what we’ve all come to expect from Congress. That’s the reason the institution’s approval rating now rests at 10 percent, according to a CNN poll last week.
What was predictable two years ago was that lawmakers would try to wriggle out of the booby trap they set for themselves. Even as the clock ticked toward the deadline, Republicans were looking for ways to stave off the nearly $500 billion in defense cuts while Democrats were insisting they would fight off any effort to take a larger chunk out of domestic programs.
The measure, also known as sequestration, now cuts about $110 billion a year divided equally between defense and domestic programs.
Americans have watched this scene play out with resignation. And they’re doing it again.
The federal government is in partial shutdown. Six hundred at Grissom Air Reserve Base are on indefinite furlough. Without a funding plan or a new debt-limit deal, the U.S. will default on its obligations next week.
What this situation demands is a sense of outrage.
The only way to truly fix Congress is to vote out the partisans on both sides of the aisle and replace them with senators and representatives who will be willing to compromise.
Continuing to fill Congress with individuals who refuse to meet in the middle will get us nothing but more partisan bickering.
Voters need to elect lawmakers who understand the need for give and take, who recognize that to get something you often have to be willing to give something up.
That concept seems lost on today’s senators and representatives. It’s up to the voters to bring it back.