Friday, October 29, 2010

Maybe we should keep the career politicians

You see it and hear it all over the place as Tuesday’s midterm elections approach.
“So and so is a career politician. Throw him (or her) out!”
Yes, incumbency is a disease in 2010. But should it be?
Maybe not.
For how many years have there been attempts to reform healthcare in the United States? This Congress finally did it.
What they came up with may have fallen short. (Or, from the perspective of the anti-incumbency folks, went too far.) But healthcare was reformed. Arguably, an accomplishment.
Congress also passed a bill designed to better regulate Wall Street – to make it more difficult for the banksters to kill the economy while playing with other people’s money. Were the reforms strong enough? Probably not. But it was a step in the right direction. Again, arguably, an accomplishment.
Then there’s the stimulus package – another measure that the outsiders – you know, the ones who want to replace the incumbents – say was a failure. Did it do enough? Did it result in a measurable economic recovery? Most Americans would agree that it did not. But, the administration, backed by the non-partisan Congressional Budget office, says things would have been much worse without it. So, again, an accomplishment.
It included tax cuts, something the outsiders support.
It included credits for renewable energy and conservation. It included incentives for home buying and help in paying college tuitions.  And yet, a frustrated electorate is poised to fire those who passed it.
Time will tell whether this anti-incumbency movement will be good for the country. But given the accomplishments of the 111th Congress, maybe we should be careful about what we wish for on Tuesday.

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