The politics of sequestration

Recurring sequestration-type battles in the United States are purely political, not economic, according to John Gilmour, professor of government at William & Mary.

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Constrained by the U.S. Constitution, exacerbated by a gerrymandered-induced split between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress, and secured by politicians unable to compromise, the structural causes of the impasse will not be corrected until the next presidential election at best, Gilmour said.

During a recent video interview on sequestration by the W&M News, Gilmour said:

Gimmicks don’t work: “History tells us that creating gimmicks like this (sequestration legislation) to force a compromise don’t actually make people reach agreement. We’re not likely to see any resolution of the fundamental disagreement. We’re just likely to see them delaying this and having one showdown after another for the next two years.”

The government is disabled: “This country is facing a whole series of problems that require action. The government is disabled. It can’t act.”

Gerrymandering led to the political split: “The public actually voted for Democrats; they just didn’t get them.”

{{youtube:medium|V4RsLkaIjyQ, Sequestration: Whose fault?}}

Gilmour, the Paul R. Verkuil Term Distinguished Professor of Public Policy at the university, is the author of Reconcilable Differences? Congress, the Budget Process, and the Deficit (University of California Press, 1990). His research includes the United States Congress and the bargaining that occurs between Congress and the president. In addition to being a professor of government, Gilmour is associate director of the Thomas Jefferson Graduate Program in Public Policy.