Congressmen Ami Bera, David Cicilline, Rodney Davis and Adam Kinzinger talk problem solving.
The hyper-partisan bickering of members of Congress is reminiscent of elementary school children, or so Governor John Hickenlooper (D-CO) told the National Journal at a recent press conference for the National Governors Association. He fears that the nation’s financial situation will have to get much worse before Washington politicians cooperate.
This sentiment is shared by governors from both parties nationwide. The gridlock and inaction in Washington is creating widespread frustration. There is a strong consensus in state capitals nationwide that Congress needs to stop the political posturing and focus on making decisions in the best interests of the country.
“What I’d prefer is for President and Congress to make some tough decisions and then maybe go on vacation for a few years,” said Governor Dave Heineman (R-NE).
The gubernatorial dissatisfaction with Congress stems from the fact that state executives find it difficult to implement policy without parameters and clarification at a federal level.
After the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, for example, many governors found themselves unsure about how to implement the policy. A critical choice, whether to enact the medicaid expansion, requires close cooperation and negotiation with the federal government -- which, by the way, is simultaneously trying to administer and repeal the act.
Governors are also lamenting that they find it nearly impossible to create a budget, as the approaching fiscal cliff could force drastic reductions in programs that are jointly administered by federal and state entities. States would have to pick up the fiscal slack on a variety of social programs, including education, housing, scientific research, and infrastructure.
But, then again, a solution may well be reached, and the threat from the fiscal cliff may dissipate. This period of congressional uncertainty, though, makes the creation of a state budget a moot point, as it may well be outdated in just a few months.
The effects of gridlock and hyper-partisanship are no longer merely felt in Washington. The effects have spread, and are now paralyzing government at a state level. The legislative bottleneck has begun a domino effect of inaction, prompting severe frustration from governors and voters alike.
Unless Congress becomes capable of passing and instituting legislation, governors will continue to find themselves unable to perform their duties as state executives.