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Which Party is More Extreme?

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Longtime political diagnostician Norman Ornstein on Tuesday was goofing on possible titles for the coming third installment of a series of books on what he and co-author Thomas Mann view as our dysfunctional Congress. 

Having already published volumes titled The Broken Branch and It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, Ornstein told an Urban Institute panel on “What Went Wrong in Washington” that he might call his next book Run for Your Lives, or perhaps, to create a sure-fire best-seller, 535 Shades of Gray

Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, likened the state of political play to a football game. Traditionally, he said, both parties line up around their 45-yard line, but now you’ve got the Democrats, who’re protecting spending for entitlement programs, somewhere around their 25-yard line, and the Republicans, increasingly hostile to all things governmental, “somewhere behind their own goalposts.” 

Rudolph Penner, the former Congressional Budget Office director who shared the panel with Ornstein, raised the bidding by asserting that since the 2012 election, “It’s gotten even worse than it looked when the book was named It’s Even Worse Than It Looks.” But he placed a bit more blame on Democrats, saying their “intransigence” on cutting entitlements and that of interest groups such as AARP, “puts them about on their own 5-yard line.”

(Image via jcjgphotography/Shutterstock.com)

Charlie Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books and organizational media strategies.

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