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US public is paying the price (2)

(China Daily)

11:20, August 24, 2011

In the US debt crisis, congress and the administrative departments refused to give in to each other's demands on the pretext of national interests, even though it is clear to everyone that the crisis is the largest threat to national interests. Because some groups' interests do not coincide with the public's, the politicians used the right of division vested by the constitution to prevent the result that would most benefit citizens. Some of them even used their acquiescence to compromise on the debt issue as a bargaining chip for irrelevant political deals. But the constitution can do nothing about this.

Moreover, one of the three powers, the judicial organ, hasn't played any role in the debt crisis. Although some people argue that such institutional arrangements focus more on equity rather than efficiency, it's at the cost of the people's welfare.

Third, the antagonism between the two parties impedes responses to vital issues. In the interests of the political parties, senators always confuse right and wrong and deceive the voters. They always oppose the other side purely for the sake of opposition at the cost of truth and national interests. Ironically, the two parties have common grounds in cooperating with influential interest groups, wooing voters and making trouble for the other party.

In handling the debt crisis, the House of Representatives dominated by the Republicans waged a tit for tat struggle against the Senate dominated by the Democrats. Each party vetoed bills advanced by the opposite side even before they were completely formed, regardless of the possible damage it might cause. A better economic situation is not in accord with the Republicans' interests this time, because they want to take advantage of the deterioration of the economy to win the election next year.

Both sides finally arrived at a compromise on the debt issue only because they are both afraid of going too far and provoking public anger. The supposedly reasonable check-and-balance of the two parties actually undermines public interests.

Although the incompetence of the US political system in meeting the present challenges has raised widespread concern both among the US public and abroad, the democratic system represented by the US is still regarded as the "least bad" political system for the West.

But democracy cannot solve every problem. It is not the be all and end all of political structures, and it should learn from the experiences and advantages of other political systems.

By Liu Weidong, the author is a researcher of institute of American Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Science.

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