The Washington Grind

The partisanship in Washington D.C. is exhausting. I can't imagine any young, idealistic American wanting to run for a Congressional seat in hopes of making a difference for his or her constituents back home. Hard-liners on both sides of the aisle have proven time and again that compromise is akin to heresy of their party's core political beliefs, whether they are liberal or conservative.

Common sense or even the hint of compromise rarely finds its way into action that could benefit the average Joe who has put his trust in an elected official who promised to do the ?right thing? if given the chance.

It's particularly frustrating to watch these goofballs, though I'm sure they are well-intended goofballs, blast one another over proposed legislation when so many Americans are struggling to find a job to pay their bills and support their families.

Health care reform, for example, became the Congressional albatross that consumed Washington for much of 2009, spilling into this year to finally find itself cast aside when those on The Hill decided it was no longer worth their time to debate and find a meaningful resolution. You may recall that in my February column I predicted passage by mid-February. I wrote that column in mid-January when I actually believed Republicans, Democrats and the Obama Administration would finish the job. Sorry, I must have had one of those idealistic average Joe moments.

So, now at the time of this writing (Feb. 24) I'm feeling pretty good about the $15 billion jobs bill the Senate advanced 24 hours earlier. I know I should be careful on this one, but the fact that recently-elected Scott Brown (R-MA) and four other Republicans helped to advance the bill has provided some hope that we do have elected officials willing to work in a bipartisan way to do what's right for those they represent.

Now many will say the proposed legislation is a pittance and will do little to actually create jobs, but it's a start ? a baby-steps approach to get this country back on its feet and build a stronger economy for the future. More jobs funding legislation will certainly follow.

What's important to recognize is that maybe there's hope in Washington. Maybe our elected officials are finally getting the message - I know, that's probably a stretch. Brown, who replaced the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D), said he would do everything in his power to create jobs for his constituents and that Republicans and Democrats have to work together. I hope he continues to maintain that philosophy and doesn't get sucked into the partisan fray

Another significant outcome of the jobs bill is that one of the Republican supporters, Sen. George Voinovich (OH), promised his support if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) promised to bring reauthorization of a multi-year surface transportation bill to the floor for a vote this year.

Again, I'm cautiously encouraged.