Consensus is hard to find in Washington these days. There wasn't that much just before before this month's election, and there is a lot less after it. President Obama is willing to compromise on extending the Bush tax cuts and on cutting spending, but many Democrats won't follow his lead. Similarly, any deals by soon-to-be House Speaker John Boehner are likely to run afoul of newly elected Tea Party Republicans or of a filibuster by their compatriots in the Senate. It's going to be very difficult to find 60 votes in the Senate for anything controversial during the next two years. The middle has gone out of American politics, and the extremes work against compromise.
Failure to govern can be a good thing if the ship of state is on a safe and sustainable course, but it isn't. Here's my short list of unsustainable U.S. policies:
1. Record deficits
2. Uncertain tax policies
3. Runaway health care costs
4. Overextended military operations
5. Poorly defended borders and counterproductive immigration policies
6. Failing K-12 schools
7. Burdensome litigation
You may want to have a strong cup of coffee -- or something stronger -- before you take a look at my column from this morning's Roll Call. Honestly, I'm not sure who besides those of us who analyze, comment on, and prognosticate about federal budget doings is going to benefit from what's ahead next year. Maybe I should raise my speaking fees.
Over at "Money In The Morning," the new blog at The Hill, Walter Alarkon includes an article (subscription required) from WSJ.com that says Wall Street is rallying because of the prospect for gridlock the next two years. But yesterday in the New York Times, Jeff Sommer had a column showing that there's no evidence gridlock has been good for Wall Street over most of the past century.