Last month George Will pushed back against the bipartisan Washington wish for bipartisanship:
Bipartisanship, the supposed scarcity of which so distresses the high‐minded, actually is disastrously prevalent.
Since 2001, it has produced No Child Left Behind, a counterproductive federal intrusion in primary and secondary education; the McCain‐Feingold speech rationing law (the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act); an unfunded prescription drug entitlement; troublemaking by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; government‐directed capitalism from the Export‐Import Bank; crony capitalism from energy subsidies; unseemly agriculture and transportation bills; continuous bailouts of an unreformed Postal Service; housing subsidies; subsidies for state and local governments; and many other bipartisan deeds, including most appropriations bills.
And today I see this banner headline in the (actual paper edition of the) Washington Post:
In Senate, farm bill produces a rarity: cooperation
Some see signs of renewed bipartisanship
Paul Kane reports:
To the purported shortlist of certainties in life — death and taxes — add large, bipartisan support in the Senate for the farm bill.
Despite the pattern in recent years of intense partisan acrimony, backroom bickering and publicly staged fights over nearly every piece of legislation, the Senate has begun to plod through a nearly $1 trillion farm bill that is likely to get a bipartisan vote for its approval by week’s end.
A trillion dollars. For a farm bill. Have we become so accustomed to throwing around the phrase “a trillion dollars” that this isn’t headline news? Not to worry, though, Congress is thinking of the taxpayers: They say they’ve cut $23 billion out of the trillion. Sure, let’s look back in a decade and see if those cuts really happened.
Meanwhile, shoveling out money to the farmers isn’t the only time Congress can be bipartisan. There’s also shoveling out money to Boeing and a handful of other big companies with the Export‐Import Bank, as the Los Angeles Times reported on May 30:
President Obama has signed into law a bill reauthorizing the Export‐Import Bank, saying the rare example of bipartisan cooperation should be a model for a future legislation.
Yessiree, as George Will said, the one thing Congress can join hands and agree on is giving taxpayers’ money to interest groups — whether it’s farmers or airplane manufacturers or college students and their parents or Medicare recipients. Bipartisanship is typically a conspiracy against the taxpayers.