Guest opinion: Divided Capitol must become bipartisan


“What we used to call gridlock in Washington, D.C., has calcified into dysfunction. Compromise and cooperation, bipartisanship and problem solving are almost nonexistent. Even civility is in short supply.”

— Al Cardenas, R-Fla., and Mack McLarty, D-Ark.


Our elected representatives owe us, at the very least, the spirit, maturity, and behavior of at least trying to work across the aisle.

Four of Iowa’s six congressional lawmakerss have agreed to put partisan ideologies aside and cooperatively work on some key policy issues: Sen. Joni Ernst, Rep. Rod Blum, Rep. David Young, and Rep. Dave Loebsack. I commend them for cosponsoring bipartisan-seeking resolutions, SR 199 and HR 207, respectively.

Unfortunately, Iowans have two elected politicians who are behaving like spoiled brats and are refusing to work across the aisle. Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Steve King have ignored Iowa voter requests to cosponsor the companion SR 199 and HR 207 resolutions, thereby refusing to work with other politicians on issues that the overwhelming majority of Americans agree are important: $19 trillion federal deficit, Social Security, Medicare, energy, and job creation.

The only action SR 199 and HR 207 requests is that our 545 members of Congress TRY to work with people of the opposite party. Refusing to even try to work with other politicians is juvenile and maybe anti-American.

King, who has served as a politician for 20 years, must prefer to be an isolationist with his peers. Grassley, a career politician for 42 years and 82 years old, should know better. Maybe one or both are getting too old and/or too comfortable in their protected political seats to care what’s in the best interest of America … solving problems.

I’m not aware of anyone who has asked King to support HR 207 has even received a courtesy reply. When Grassley was asked by a multitude of Iowans to cosponsor SR 199, his rubber-stamp response was, “I will keep your thoughts (i.e., support bipartisan SR 199) should the full Senate consider the resolution.”

I cannot see any logical or sound emotional reason for Grassley or King to purposely ignore an `attempt’ at bipartisanship legislation at any time while in office.

Ninety-seven percent of Americans say they want our elected officials to be problem-solvers. The only way that is going to happen in a divided Capitol is to be bipartisan.

It’s unfortunate to have to remind our veteran legislators, Grassley and King, the following measures only came about due to bipartisanship: New Deal during the Depression, harnessing our might during World War II, building the interstate highway system, passing civil-rights legislation, containing communism, space exploration and landing on the Moon, LBJ’s Great Society, 1980s tax code reformation and protecting Social Security (President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neill), 1990 Americans with Disability Act, Clean Air Act of 1990, balancing the budget (1991-1994; President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich), 2001 George W. Bush tax reform, 2010 Domenici-Rivlin Debt Reduction Bill, and rallying the nation after 9/11.

Each of these milestones, under Republican and Democratic administrations, had one thing in common: People with different political beliefs worked together. Today, due to stubbornness and self-centeredness, the Beltway has indeed calcified into a dysfunctional institution.

All that is asked of Grassley and King to do is to stop fighting and to start fixing.

Woe is it for me to remind Grassley and King that politics is the art of the possible and not the science of reclusiveness. “We the People” deserve action-oriented legislators. If our elected representatives don’t want to portray common civility in the policymaking process, mature and responsible replacements are in order.

Steve Corbin

professor emeritus of marketing, University of Northern Iowa

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