Just like the debt limit negotiations and Supercommittee process that helped cause it, the so-called "fiscal cliff" of expiring laws is creating another round of secretive negotiations among our political leaders. The heads of both parties now thrive on stories of impending fiscal consequences, even when they're of their own making.To cope with a polarized electorate, our leaders have figured out a way to create an apparent impending disaster that is unpalatable regardless of one's ideology. Whatever the outcome of their fight with each other, they've created a dystopian future against which they can be made to look like heroes warding off impending doom with their brave bipartisanship.
It doesn't really matter which party started it (both of them) or whether this was avoidable (it was), because divided government has again led us to a place where the most important policy decisions are probably going to be made in secret, and then passed down to the rest of us.
While online disclosure and dialog don't threaten to take away politicians' power anytime soon, they do represent our best chance at elevating substance, rewarding merit, and reducing undue influence, whether in crafting legislation or in dealing with the struggles of divided government. Sunlight's approach to government transparency has made us skeptical observers of these political negotiations, and as we find ourselves entering yet another cycle, we decided to ask:
What can we expect of the next month, and what should we do about it?Continue reading