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Source: Joseph Unekis, 785-532-0442, jku@k-state.edu
http://www.k-state.edu/media/mediaguide/bios/unekisbio.html
News release prepared by: Tyler Sharp, 785-532-2535, media@k-state.edu

Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011

DIVIDED GOVERNMENT MAY MEAN GRIDLOCK RULES, SAYS CONGRESSIONAL EXPERT

MANHATTAN -- Divided government is often the recipe for political gridlock, and the 112th Congress will be no exception, according to a Kansas State University congressional expert.

"I just don't see this Congress accomplishing much of anything unless President Obama just caves," said Joseph Unekis, associate professor of political science. "He's really gearing up to get himself re-elected."

Since the 112th Congress convened in early January, one of the significant actions taken by the Republican-led House of Representatives was to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Jan. 19. Thus far, no vote has occurred in the Senate despite the efforts of the body's Republican members. Unekis believes the efforts are in vain.

"You won't get rid of the act unless it's invalidated by the Supreme Court," he said.

Along with the health care debate, economic issues continue to dominate the political dialogue. Limiting government spending has been a rallying cry for many new members of Congress, particularly Republicans. This issue lacks substance, according to Unekis.

"They talk about cutting waste but only to the social programs," he said. "They know these cuts won't be made because the Democrats control the Senate and the presidency, and they'll protect their constituents from these cuts. The Republicans are responding to their constituents' demands that they cut government spending, but it's interesting to note that there's been no mention of cutting farm subsidies, which are dear to the hearts of their rural constituents."

The economic effects of congressional action or inaction will have political ramifications for the 2012 elections.

Attempts to compare the 112th Congress to those of the past are inexact at best, Unekis said. Variables such as quality of the leadership, the country's mood and congressional priorities carry different amounts of influence.

"With so many variables, each Congress stands alone," he said.

Members of Congress who intend to run for re-election in 2012 based on their record must prepare for everything. If they decide to act as trustees and support, in their judgment, the policy that is best for the country instead of acting as delegates who put their constituents' interests first, then they have to remember that no good deed goes unpunished in American politics, Unekis said.