By Lee H. Hamilton
With the good thing about an insider's viewpoint, unique former congressman Lee H. Hamilton argues that the US wishes a much better Congress and a extra engaged citizenry so that it will make certain responsive and potent democracy. Hamilton explains how Congress has drifted clear of the function estimated for it within the structure as a physique whose energy and impact will be preeminent within the American process of presidency. He information the stairs that Congress may still take to re-establish its parity with the administrative department and turn into an establishment that works reliably and successfully for the betterment of the nation―reinforce congressional oversight, repair the deliberative procedure, reduce the effect of lobbyists, and decrease over the top partisanship. at the same time, Hamilton calls upon americans to take extra heavily their tasks and duties as voters and interact with the serious matters dealing with their groups and the nation.
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I doubt it. Members of Congress simply must do better. Some internal changes in the way Congress operates would improve the situation, as Mucciaroni and Quirk and others have suggested—extending the time for debate, reducing the number of omnibus bills, and restoring the central role once played by standing committees. Committees usually serve to refine and focus debates on the core issues, making it easier both for the American public and for other members of Congress to follow and take part in them.
None of this was what the Framers envisioned. The Constitution was drafted at a time of deep distrust of monarchy and, indeed, all forms of concentrated power. No single person, our founders believed, should have the responsibility for making the gravest decision a president can make: whether to send young men (and, now, women) into battle. While the world is a very different, more dangerous place than when the country was founded, I find myself in basic agreement with the Founders. In our representative democracy, it is Congress—not the president—that gives voice to the concerns of ordinary Americans.
There is a growing recognition that Congress must in general reassert its authority. The budget is a key place to do so. To be sure, Congress has made some progress toward cutting back on excessive “earmarks”—the expenditures on bridges, roads, museums, research programs, and other projects often derided as “pork”—and is to be commended for this. But eliminating an earmark doesn’t eliminate the spending, only how it is allocated. Against the backdrop of Congress’s far more costly habit of passing unaffordable entitlement spending and equally unaffordable tax cuts, it’s only the tiniest of steps.