What was interesting immediately was the definition that both are pragmatic. When one usually thinks of programs they are either pragmatic or ideological within both the legislative and executive branches. (They could also have elements of both.) But here when considering both a Democratic president and Congress, Brooks defines both as pragmatic. Are Democrats seen as pragmatic and Republicans more ideological?
Brooks makes an excellent point which has more to do with politics than programs in that the stimulus bill, cap and trade bill, and now the health care bill all have to be negotiated so that a bill that could actually work becomes so convoluted by politics that by the time it passes it has no effect or even increases the problems that the bill itself sought to alleviate. He cites the European Union's cap and trade bill as increasing emissions after it was passed as opposed to decreasing them. In relation to health care Brooks writes,
On health care too, the complicated job of getting a bill that can pass is taking priority over the complicated task of creating a program that can work. Dozens of different ideas are being added, watered down or merged together in order to cobble together a majority. But will the logrolling produce a sustainable health system that controls costs and actually hangs together?Brooks does not offer a solution, but he does give us much to think about. In considering a solution I wonder if getting big business out of campaign financing would be a great start. Bills then would not be laden with such pork and the probability of passing one that will actually make a difference will be far greater, not to mention that the power element associated with members of Congress will be lessened and servant leadership more possible.
The great paradox of the age is that Barack Obama, the most riveting of recent presidents, is leading us into an era of Congressional dominance. And Congressional governance is a haven for special interest pleading and venal logrolling.
When the executive branch is dominant you often get coherent proposals that may not pass. When Congress is dominant, as now, you get politically viable mishmashes that don’t necessarily make sense.