What with the growing dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq and with the political fallout from Republican Rep. Mark Foley’s sudden — and much deserved — fall from grace to shame, it is beginning to look more and more like the Republican Party will lose control of one, if not both, houses of Congress in the November elections, and that’s not such a bad thing for the country.

Critics say a divided government will lead to “gridlock” in which little or nothing gets accomplished, but look at what happened the last time we had a divided government. It was during the administration of Democratic President Bill Clinton, and it resulted in the passage of a landmark welfare reform bill that has successfully moved millions of Americans from the welfare rolls to productive jobs and four consecutive years of budget surpluses during which the national debt was actually lowered. The reason was clear: Unable to push their own agendas, the Republicans and Democrats in Congress and President Clinton worked together to curb the worst excesses of each party.

Compare that to now, when Republicans have been in control of both houses of Congress and the White House for four of the last six years. With little debate, the GOP Congress has given President Bush more power than any president in our history, and President Bush has stood idly by when the Republicans in Congress have gone on a spending and borrowing spree of epic proportions.

This Republican-controlled Congress has presided over the largest expansion of government entitlements since the Great Society, the largest per-capita increase in federal spending since the Great Society, record federal deficits and a record national debt. Never again will the Republicans in good conscience be able to criticize the irresponsible spending of the “tax and spend” Democrats.

This Congress has not even done much work. It has set a new record for being in session only 100 days this year. While it has wasted much time on meaningless votes on such issues as flag burning, gay marriage and keeping God in the Pledge of Allegiance, it has neglected its only two real duties: To pass a budget for the government in the spring and pass the 12 spending bills to fund that budget by Oct. 1. This Congress never got around to the budget and still hasn’t passed 10 of the spending bills.

President Bush could have used the veto to stop the excesses of this Congress, but the only time he has vetoed a bill was to halt federal support for stem-cell research.

Here in Kentucky we have witnessed both the best and the worst of “gridlock” in government. The worst is when the Democrat-controlled Kentucky House of Representatives and the Republican-controlled Senate twice failed to approve a budget, the only responsibility specifically assigned to them by the Kentucky Constitution. The best is when both houses of the General Assembly have worked together for the common good.

Frankly, as we watch this Congress expend a lot of hot air on trivial issues while ignoring real problems, a divided government seems more and more appealing.

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