Financial reform hits double deep freeze
Even before the U.S. capital was buried under three feet of snow in a matter of days, Washington was frozen solid. Democratic bumbling and Republican obstructionism had sapped legislative momentum from key reforms in finance as well as healthcare and energy. That gridlocked state of affairs is unlikely to change even after Snowmageddon blows into history and the federal government reopens its shuttered offices.
Of course, even if Congress had some desire to make progress on those critical issues, Mother Nature would not have cooperated this week. A former city mayor was dead-on when he declared Washington not a snow town. Commuter trains into the city aren’t running, the Metro subway system offers only limited service, airports are closed and Amtrak closed its rail link to Wall Street (the Acela Express).
Even Pennsylvania Avenue, the main thoroughfare between the White House and Capitol Hill, is barely passable. As a result, federal agencies and departments have been shut all week, a bill that will run to about half a billion dollars in lost productivity and opportunity costs, according to government estimates. Both the House of Representatives and Senate have canceled all votes until after next week’s recess.
Of course, it’s an ill Snowpocalypse (residents’ other storm nickname of choice) that doesn’t blow someone a bit of good.
Toyota caught a break when a congressional hearing to investigate its car recall was postponed for two weeks. And lawmakers skeptical of climate change guffawed when the Obama administration chose the middle of this Arctic blast as the best time to announce a new agency to study global warming. Then there are the jokes. What’s Washington’s snow removal plan called? Spring.
But the snow will eventually melt, and there will be a general thawing out. If only the same warming could be confidently predicted for relations between Democrats and Republicans in this heated election year. As long as both sides keep things icy inside Congress, it really won’t matter much what the weather outside is doing.