The primary failing of the 112th Congress has been its inability — and often downright refusal — to produce solutions to the nation’s problems, both long-term and day-to-day.
Since convening in January 2011, the legislative branch of the federal government has passed fewer than 180 bills into law. A USA Today analysis in August projected the 112th could finish this year as the least productive Congress since World War II. A glaring example of the body’s dismal performance is the looming “fiscal cliff,” a $500-billion bundle of tax hikes and automatic cuts to the military and multiple federal agencies, triggered at year’s end if lawmakers fail to finalize a budget. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office warns the fallout would plunge the economy back into a recession.
The nation needs bipartisan cooperation on Capitol Hill. Republicans and Democrats, tea partiers and liberals, must converse, compromise and act to handle America’s present needs and future concerns. Two years of nonstop, polarized, political grandstanding has thwarted the economy’s growth. The country wants results from its Congress, not endless complaints from its members about the other branches of the U.S. government.
Moderate voices of reason will be valuable when the 113th Congress begins early next year. Thus, our endorsement in the race for Indiana’s 8th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives goes to Dave Crooks. The southern Indiana businessman spent 12 years as a representative in the Indiana House, ending that tenure to be with his stepdaughter, who lost a battle with leukemia, and tend to his growing business — a small group of radio stations. Crooks is a Democrat, but aptly describes himself as a moderate conservative. That viewpoint fits the 8th District, a vast 18-county area with a mix of conservatism, progressivism and in-between-ism.
Crooks especially appears able to address the wide range of concerns of Vigo Countians, who elect both Democrats and Republicans with some regularity. During his time in the Indiana Legislature, the House was evenly split between parties, 50-50. Every bill required negotiation and compromise. Lawmakers had to buck their party occasionally. Experience in that atmosphere would be refreshingly helpful in Washington, D.C., next year.
The Republican incumbent, freshman Rep. Larry Bucshon, is an Evansville area heart surgeon, with a sharp intellect and firsthand experience in the health-care field. Bucshon also has shown a bit more flexibility on some party-line issues than expected, in light of the partisan rhetorical atmosphere in his first campaign of 2010. Nonetheless, Bucshon has voted with his party 95.9 percent of time, the 18th highest rate of 240 House Republicans, according to Open Congress, a project of the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation.
Bucshon has cited some cases in which he crossed the political aisle to reach agreement, including the highway funding bill as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. That is admirable, but that sense of compromise has not emerged in the issues that have gridlocked Congress. We see Crooks as a more likely candidate to bring resolution to problems that have been left unaddressed for too long.