APLarry Summers has a great piece in the Washington Post, commenting on the much-maligned Washington DC “gridlock” that’s supposedly been an impediment to progress in the United States.
First he notes that gridlock is nothing new.
But more powerfully he observes what tremendous progress the US has made on a number of fronts over the past 5 years during this famous gridlock.
The great mistake of the gridlock theorists is to suppose that progress comes from legislation, and that more legislation consistently represents more progress. While people think the nation is gripped by gridlock, consider what has happened in the past five years: Washington moved faster to contain a systemic financial crisis than any country facing such an episode has done in the past generation. Through all the fractiousness, enough change has taken place that, without further policy action, the ratio of debt to gross domestic product is expected to decline for the next five years. Beyond that, the outlook depends largely on health-care costs, but their growth has slowed to the rate of GDP growth for three years now, the first such slowdown in nearly half a century. At last, universal health care has been passed and is being implemented. Within a decade, it is likely that the United States no longer will be a net importer of fossil fuels. Financial regulation is not in a fully satisfactory place but has received its most substantial overhaul in 75 years. For the first time, most schools and teachers are being evaluated on objective metrics of performance. Same-sex marriage has become widely accepted.
It’s hard not to be moved by all of that, especially compared to — as he notes — the stasis in Europe and Asia during this time.
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