Expect same from GOP congress

Eastern New Mexico residents who fear the Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives will mean a loss of benefits probably needn’t worry.

Despite all the rhetoric to that effect, the Grand Old Party traditionally has shown a grand old habit for maintaining and even expanding services — and debt — as have the Democrats, who kept control of the Senate.

Both parties, after all, show the same penchant of buying Americans’ votes with favors paid with the voters’ own money.

We need only look back at the George W. Bush administration to see just how much the government grew under a Republican president and Congress.

If history is any indication, government isn’t likely to shrink, even though that’s what many Republican candidates promised. Even after the 1994 elections, in which Newt Gingrich-led conservatives swept into power in both chambers of Congress, the growth of government slowed but did not reverse.

What we did see during those years, was greater deliberation on major bills and matters of policy. The result was passage of significant bills, including the landmark 1997 welfare reform and budget-balancing legislation.

Both parties complain when they don’t have outright majorities that can force through party-supported bills, but some of the worst legislation this country has seen has come when one party controls both the White House and both houses of Congress.

Parity enforces the checks and balances that our Founding Fathers deemed so important to our system of government. The inevitable debate and deliberation on proposed legislation helps ensure that minority views are heard and consequences are more likely to be considered.

That’s perhaps the best result of what voters last week. Legislation is by design a deliberative process; it’s supposed to move slowly so that proposals can be debated as much as necessary. If done right, it results in better-crafted bills that provide fewer bad surprises.

The complicit Congress that President Obama has enjoyed in his first two years in office has forced through nationalized health care, massive business bailouts and tax-funded incentives for people to buy government-approved cars, appliances and other items. The health care bill in particular was passed quickly; even the lawmakers who voted on it didn’t have a chance to read what actually was in it. Now that people have started reading the bill, many Americans are alarmed at just what might happen for their medical care.

On this and other bills that Congress rushed through, the public for the most part has been split on the ideas; majorities have even opposed some measures. Democrats in Congress, however, enjoying their majority, have paid little heed to the opposition — even to those who simply wanted them to take the time needed to think bills through thoroughly.

Expect both parties to complain of gridlock, since neither will be able to have its way. History suggests, however, that it’s the best situation for the country. The best we can hope for, then, is to see better government.

Just don’t expect smaller government, even if that’s what many Americans would like to see.