Speaker John A. Boehner had goaded the Senate to act first on grounds that the House passed two sequester alternatives last year. But those bills died when the 112th Congress sine died, and the GOP has not resurrected them for fear they wouldn’t pass this time. On Feb. 28, the Senate accepted Boehner’s challenge to act first but couldn’t muster the 60 votes needed to consider the two parties’ dueling sequester alternatives. Senators subsequently skipped town to the sound of rubber bands snapping.
In Federalist No. 62, James Madison expressed the belief that good government implies “fidelity to the object of government, which is the happiness of the people” and “a knowledge of the means by which that object can be best attained.” He concluded the essay by observing that a political system that exhibits “marks of infirmity” and betrays the people’s “flattering hopes” will not long be respected “without being truly respectable; nor be truly respectable without possessing ... order and stability.”
The current disorder and instability of a government careening from one man-made crisis to the next is contributing directly to the people’s unhappiness and disrespect for government. Congress and the president must find the knowledge, wisdom and means to change that.
Don Wolfensberger is a resident scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and former staff director of the House Rules Committee.