As a member of the Wet Blanket movement, I’m obviously excited about the prospect of government gridlock resulting from divided government. Here are two other perpectives on why we should be enthusiastic about Congressional inactivity.
First, Ilya Somin:
[D]ivided government tends to restrain the growth of the state, and that when the two parties share power, they curb some of each other’s abuses.
I should also note that nearly all of the major government-restraining legislation of the the last thirty years (e.g. — the 1981 and 1986 tax reforms, the 1996 welfare reform, the deregulations and spending restrictions of the late 1990s) were passed under divided government, whereas nearly all the major expansions of government during that period (e.g. — Bush’s massive prescription drug bill, Obama’s stimulus and health care bills) were enacted under united control (the TARP bailout in late 2008 is the one big exception). This is probably not an accident and is consistent with historical experience. I’m not exactly optimistic about what either Obama or the new Republican House majority will do. But I do think that prospects for limiting government are far better today than they were just a few months ago. And the return of divided government is a crucial reason why. At the very least, we are unlikely to see any massive new government programs enacted, as happened under both united Republican control in the Bush era and united Democratic control under Obama.
Second, Douglas Wilson:
Over the course of the next year or so, you will be told ad nauseum that the nation is suffering from endless gridlock. The American people, it will be said, want things to “get done.” Well, I might want to ask, what things? If I am tied up on the deck of a pirate ship, with a bunch of fellow hostages, and a fight breaks out among the pirates, with one faction wanting us to walk the plank, and the other faction wanting to run us all through, I cast my vote for gridlock. As in, yay, gridlock.