By Greg Orman
April 07, 2016
After Tuesday night’s election returns from Wisconsin gave Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz their victories over Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, respectively, the pundit class promptly anointed April 5 as the pivot point in the 2016 presidential election. This was about the eighth supposed “turning point” in the election—if you listen to the TV talking heads.
In describing this campaign season as a series of “defining” moments, however, the pundits have gotten the headline right, but the story wrong. The reality is this campaign isn’t about a series of moments over the past 12 months. It’s the byproduct of two decades of neglect and corruption by the ruling duopoly in Washington, D.C. That dereliction of duty has been defined by moments, each of which has left the American people wondering who their leaders really represent.
Sometimes these moments are simply examples of a Congress populated by lawyers with no practical experience in anything other than the inner workings of government. They enact policy prescriptions that favor the special interests that fund the Republican and Democratic parties—or embrace solutions that are well intentioned, but naïve.
Pass a trade agreement that’s going to eliminate a couple million jobs? No worries. A dollop of Trade Adjustment Assistance will solve that problem. A series of such decisions on trade policy, supported by both Democrats and Republicans, left millions of Americans economically dislocated. Those workers do not typically field a half-dozen employment offers from lobbying firms when they need a job—the path open to former members of Congress and their staffs. While free trade has led to lower prices for American consumers, our government has done a terrible job anticipating and planning for the negative effects of globalization on millions of American workers.
There are other examples of cavalier law making by our elected officials. The passage of Medicare Part D in 2003 was heralded at the time as being good for retirees, and by many measures it was. It was even better for the pharmaceutical industry, which bargained for prohibiting Medicare’s ability to negotiate prices. Is it any wonder drug prices are skyrocketing and Americans not covered by Medicare can no longer afford their prescriptions?
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