Despite looming deadlines related to budget sequestration and decade-old “temporary” tax rates that expire at year’s end, massive entitlement crises, and much more, Congress has effectively stopped work on serious legislation until at least some time after November’s election.
Many observers and participants—including the entire GOP and Democratic leadership—are quick to cry gridlock and to blame inaction on some new awful hyper-partisan or ideological era.
But there isn’t gridlock, which usually results from Democrats and Republicans sharing power and clashing over alternative positions. Gridlock slows things down—almost always a good thing—but it doesn’t stop serious legislation from happening. Welfare reform, balanced budgets, defense cuts, and capital-gains tax rate cuts in the 1990s were all the product of gridlock that slowly gave way to consensus.