Over the years, the policy effects of this political exhaustion have been surprisingly mixed. On fiscal issues, the legislative clinches have added up. In recent years, the two parties have agreed to just over $2 trillion in reduced spending (over 10 years) and raised taxes by about $700 billion during the same period — cutting the 10-year deficit in half. In the absence of serious entitlement reform, America's long-term fiscal prognosis remains disastrous. But the shorter-term deficit is in significantly better shape.
Yet on domestic policy — including immigration and issues related to economic opportunity and mobility — little gets accomplished. Democrats have few results to show since the 2010 election. Republicans, meanwhile, have conducted a debilitating, internal debate over whether the crafting of domestic policy is even an appropriate federal role.
America is a nation with serious public challenges — and a political class exhausted by minimal exertions.
Michael Gerson's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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