Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Let There Be Deadlock

A housemate of mine is a hard-core Republican and he, knowing that I favored small government, was astonished that I wanted the Democrats to retake the House. "They'll raise your taxes," he said, repeating typical partisan talking points. This might happen (mostly because Republicans spent all the money), but it's difficult to accomplish because now we have deadlock.

The logic of deadlock is ultimately an economic argument. When there's more than one party with branch or chamber control, it requires inter-party negotiation to pass a law. There's vote trading, diplomacy, petty bickering and constant talks. These things cost time and political capital to pull off. Legislation is now more expensive than when one party controlled the law making process. Basic economics: if something's relatively more expensive, you get less of it.

Deadlock is not the ideal scenario because it can't reduce the size of government, only slow its growth. But government reduction is a legendary event and it would be unreasonable to demand and nothing less. Deadlock is an attainable second option, and it looks like that's what last night gave us.

There's some confusion in Virginia and Montana over the Senate, but it appears it will be a 49/49/2 spread, with the two independents leaning Democrat. Because Cheney breaks Senate ties, the power is very balanced in the higher chamber. I'm not sure if a really close chamber is a good thing. On one hand, it only takes a slight tip to get a majority (making laws cheaper). On the other hand, such slights tips from both sides might bounce back and forth, transforming into a blob of politicking (making laws more expensive). I suppose it depends on the law, but I'm favoring the latter argument.


jeremy h. said...

Sorry David, there will be no deadlock: "Bush Pledges to Work With Democrats."

The Onion has it right: "Politicians Sweep Midterm Elections."

David said...

Gridlock doesn't mean there's NO legislation, only less because the costs increase. Even if he works with them (a big assumption), he's not their slave. Increase transaction costs increases total costs; the demand curve slopes down.