In November, when Obama won (and before this blog existed) I predicted that Obama's biggest obstacles to success would be his own party in Congress. While I think Bill is right about the political spectrum in this country being a bit skewed, I think it has more to do with Congresspeople having exactly one issue that they care about: reelection.
- Defense cuts? No can do, that means losing jobs in my district.
- Public option for health care? Uh oh, does that mean losing all the money I get from pharmaceutical companies and health insurance companies?
- Cap-and-trade plan or a tax on carbon? Nope, too many coal plants and big industries in my district. (The current carbon bill has been watered down to the point where it will do almost nothing.)
- Gay rights? Ehh... It's not hugely popular in my district and I'll get slammed by religious groups and "values" groups. Sorry, can't do it.
A great example of this is corn ethanol. Corn ethanol subsidies are FANTASTIC for the farmers in Iowa and Illinois. But corn ethanol is not the answer as a renewable fuel. It is very inefficient, especially compared to the sugar ethanol made in Brazil. But because of Iowa's electoral importance, nobody is willing to take on corn ethanol subsidies.
Until Congress can look past the money wielded by the special interests in their districts, they will be unwilling to do what's right for the country, and continue doing whatever they can to be reelected. And the country will continue to suffer as a result.