One meme that I've been hearing a lot recently is that Congress is "dysfunctional", but I don't agree. Let's look at some evidence though:
- Congress hasn't passed a budget since 2009
- Supercommittee superfails to make even superficial budget reforms
- Obamacare enacted using procedural gimmicks and against public will
- No ability to tackle soaring "entitlement" deficits
- No Congressional authorization for Libya war
These aren't even complaints about good versus bad policy... they're evidence that Congress is completely and hopelessly gridlocked. However, I don't think think that this gridlock is a sign of dysfunction... I think Congress is working as intended.
What? Yes, that's right. Our Constitution separates powers in the government to purposefully make it hard to do stuff. That's a feature, not a bug. Congress is gridlocked because the electorate is gridlocked: we don't want to give up our "entitlements", but we're also slowly realizing that we can't keep borrowing to pay for them.
Either taxes go up a lot, or entitlements get slashed. Which will it be? Congress can't act until there's a relatively broad mandate for one road or the other. Until that time nothing will happen, and it's not Congress' fault.