With hometowns as close together as Baton Rouge and Clinton, two of the top negotiators on a new deal to avert our government from defaulting on its bills have a lot in common.
Including their knowledge of gumbo, and stern ideas about how to make it.
As writers at NBC put it, Republican Garret Graves and Democrat Shalanda Young seasoned their budgetary negotiations with some good-natured culinary ribbing.
“He said he makes better gumbo than me, so we were really trying to hash that out,” Young said as she left a meeting with Graves in the Capitol. “She conceded,” Graves said later after the deal was struck. “It’s all about the roux.”
Graves, a four-term congressman, and Young, head of President Joe Biden’s Office of Management and Budget, share more than their Louisiana roots: Both were longtime aides on Capitol Hill before rising to their current positions, and that may have been the secret sauce of the talks that yielded an agreement to avoid a horrible U.S. government default.
It is hardly a perfect deal. And it represents a triumph of politics over good policy, because the issue of raising the debt limit is the wrong process through which to address concerns over government spending.
Still, the good news is that it worked.
There is a level of trust in government just as there is around a stove stirring the roux. It’s earned over time, whatever advocates of term limits in office may say. The Louisianans had that going for them during the talks.
But a shared culture makes for much better trash-talk. And maybe they can explain what a roux is to folks eating more blandly from around America.