- - Thursday, January 22, 2015

Gridlock became a dirty word in Washington after the Republicans regained the majority in the House of Representatives and stood in the path of the invader from Fantasy Island, shouting “Stop!” The president wanted a rubber stamp, and the Democrats agreed, demanding of the Republicans, “Why can’t you be like us?”

Now there’s a new, bright-red Congress determined to stop a president determined to get as many bad things done while he can, fighting with executive orders and ready with his pen to veto what he doesn’t want. Whose gridlock is it now?

The White House and the Democrats in Congress have tried to persuade Americans that the country has been harmed by gridlock, that valuable legislation has been stalled by partisan bickering. This has not persuaded America, and the Republicans numbers in Congress have continued to grow in the Obama era. Most of the discarded legislation would have encouraged the growth and scope of government, offering little or no benefit to the people. Gridlock has been effective in reining government spending, saving taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars and getting the struggling economy back on its feet with a weak and uneven recovery. Most voters have come to regard gridlock as the needed defense against the ambitions of a strange agenda. It was an imperfect defense but a defense nonetheless.

The need for defense was writ large this week in the president’s State of the Union Address. He wanted to blow the nation’s resources as if he had not seen the November election returns. By the calculation of the cost of the president’s proposals from the National Taxpayers Union, his recommendations would cost $41 billion if all were adopted, and that does not count five proposals whose costs could not be calculated. A “free” two-year community college education would cost $6 billion annually, and a further $3.5 billion a year would expand government day care.

Expanding opportunities for higher education and providing working families with improved child care options are important, but it’s important to encourage education in the right way, not as the means to rob taxpayers. Gridlock will likely kill both proposals, saving taxpayers $9.5 billion a year, or about $75 per taxpayer.

Very little of the president’s State of the Union boondoggle will be adopted. The president knows this and is pleased by the prospect. These promises were meant only to anger the party’s base with disappointment. In 2010, when Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate nearly everything laid out in the president’s State of the Union address was approved, at a cost of $70 billion. It was the president’s profligacy that led to the stunning routs of Democratic congressional candidates.

Gridlock slowed federal spending, which sent more money to the private sector, spurring economic growth. When Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, federal spending soared 16 percent in just two years. In the four budget years since, with those majorities much diminished, government growth has increased by just over 5 percent. Despite Mr. Obama’s efforts to substantially increase federal spending Republicans in the House put up effective obstacles, preventing more than $1 trillion added to the deficit.

Gridlock is a bad word in certain pockets on Capitol Hill, but only to those who believe there is no size to which government should not grow. For Americans who see the value in a limited, responsible government that respects its citizens’ hard-earned savings, gridlock is good, necessary and the defense the nation must have in the final two years of the administration of a president who knows only how to wreck things.

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