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Another Voice: Bipartisan government at work

 By Kevin Igoe

Bipartisan government, which many think is the optimum manner of governing, is often messy. And I would add expensive. This is so because by its very nature bipartisan agreements must include some things for both sides.

Witness the recent congressional budget deal.

Republicans were bound and determined to lift the years' old spending caps on defense.

But when it became clear that some Republicans would not go along with that level of increased spending, it became necessary for the Republican leadership to entice support from a number of Democrats. Thus, in addition to a $165 billion for the Pentagon, the bill also contained a $131 billion increase for domestic programs cherished by liberals.

And just for good measure the bill included $90 million in disaster aid to make a no vote tougher for members from California (fires), Texas (Harvey) and Florida (Irma).

For the record, on final passage the two-year budget bill was supported by 67 percent of Republican members and 38 percent of Democrats.

In one party rule, the other side gets nothing. Their priorities get left out. They will be upset and they will complain. But it is cheaper because there is no need to be concerned about buying off votes all across the political spectrum from left to right.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ken.) who held up Senate passage for eight hours thus bringing about a technical government shutdown while most of America slept, was right about Republicans conveniently forgetting their concerns about deficit. He also seemed to forget that four weeks earlier he supported a tax cut which, in the short term, also increases the deficit while offering longer term promise of increased economic growth and revenues.

Ironically, if House Republicans who voted no because it costs too much had been willing to vote yes for a less expensive bill, the Democrats' policy priorities could have been left out. In that scenario, the spending level would be less and the deficit would be smaller. I thought that was exactly what the Freedom Caucus wanted.

It has been my view for years that when voters say, "The parties should work together," what they really mean is: "The other side should cave." People want their representative to stick to principles. That is why they voted for that person. Politicians understand that this mindset exists among their constituents. I believe this has been a major contributing factor to the congressional gridlock and America's polarization of recent years.

One-party rule is almost always cheaper. It can also be more efficient since the other side's opinions do not matter but eventually it will lead to abuses. As the saying goes: absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Governing through a bipartisan process is more expensive, usually slower (which is not necessarily bad) and generally builds a spirit of problem-solving and offering solutions.

Your choice, America. What's your preference?

Kevin Igoe is the former deputy chief of staff of the Republican National Committee and served on the Washington staff of former Rep. Jack Quinn. He is a graduate of Canisius High School and Canisius College.

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