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Is the U.S. Senate Aiding Economic Inequality?

by Tige Richardson, published

If there is one issue that both Republican and Democratic lawmakers continue to evoke it is the jarring economic inequality of the United States. Although they disagree on the remedy, lawmakers almost universally agree that economic inequality is a serious problem.

So why, then, has no meaningful action been taken to address a problem that impacts a majority of Americans?

In a recent article, the New Yorker examined the relationship between the government systems in democratic nations and the amount of economic inequality in these countries. What they found was that in addition to having the highest amount of economic inequality, the United States has the most number of veto players.

A veto player is defined as a person or entity that can block legislation. In the U.S., the Senate and the House of Representatives are two veto players.

More than half of the twenty-three countries Stepan and Linz studied have only one veto player; most of these countries have unicameral parliaments. A few countries have two veto players; Switzerland and Australia have three. Only the United States has four.

The study also observes that when taking into account the number of seats and the total U.S. population, the Senate is the least representative chamber among the democracies studied. The study reveals that in countries where there are more barriers to enact changes in existing laws, intrenched interests have a unique advantage of delaying or killing legislation aimed at mitigating social ills.

Read the full article here.

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