The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Columns

June 28, 2013

Lee Hamilton: Congress needs to remember how to make policy

I’ve noticed a recurring question as I talk to people about Congress. What can be done, they wonder, to get Congress back on track? Is our national legislature capable of serious policy making? At a time when polls say that jobs and the economy are Americans’ chief concern, Congress has not passed a single piece of economic legislation. Instead, it’s focused on investigations. It’s an institution with very little to show for its efforts.

There’s a reason for this. Few legislators know how to make it work any more — respect the legislative process and know it intimately, have mastered the substantive and procedural details, and have the political savvy and skill to move a bill to enactment.

How can Congress improve? A few procedural fixes might help, but the real answer is actually pretty simple: change the way members of Congress work.

First, they need to put in more time legislating on the major challenges facing the country. Only twice this year has Congress been in session for four weeks straight. Its members spend too much of each week at home campaigning and meeting with constituents, and don’t use their limited time in Washington well: much of it goes to meeting lobbyists, legislating on minor if not trivial matters, making the rounds of receptions, and raising funds.

Members have few occasions to get to know one another except in the confrontational settings of committee rooms and the floor of their chamber, and as a result they don’t know how to work together. Just as dispiriting, they know even less about what we sent them there to do: crafting and enacting legislation. It takes skill and perseverance to create meaningful policies that forge common ground among competing interests and ideologies. The time-consuming, difficult work of legislating on complex issues is becoming a lost art.

Text Only
Columns
  • Jim Bailey: Figuring out how to have the good in life without the bad Most of us have had those faith-shaking episodes in our lives. The tragic episodes that leave us wondering what life is all about.

    April 24, 2014

  • OPN - Mootry column mug [Duplicate] [Duplicate] Primus Mootry: There is a poet in each of us April is National Poetry Month. Throughout the country, colleges and universities, elementary and secondary schools, libraries and various publications have hosted poetry readings or featured unpublished poets.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • underwood mug [Duplicate] Scott Underwood: Nightmares from high school proms past I wore a salmon-colored tuxedo with a cummerbund and tails to my senior prom. I was 6-foot-6 and 175 pounds. A beanpole.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hayden, Maureen mug Maureen Hayden: Judge in gay marriage decision no activist

    When U.S. District Judge Richard Young recently ruled in favor of a lesbian couple seeking recognition of their out-of-state marriage, opponents of same-sex unions called him an activist judge who was unilaterally trampling the law. The label didn’t resonate with those who know Young well.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Charo Boyd mug [Duplicate] Charo Boyd: Social Security goes green on Earth Day and every day For years, Social Security has been at the forefront of offering convenient, easy-to-use, and secure online services. We, along with those we serve, have saved a lot of paper, shipping costs, and fuel — and cut back on a lot of carbon exhaust and pollution — by going online instead of doing things the old-fashioned, less efficient way.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tim Kean: Can we have a 'A New State of Mind?' I have recently read some great articles about people coming together to make a difference in the lives of children facing food insecurity. The collective effort of a group can provide some much-needed food to kids who may not have a meal when they return home from school or during the weekend.

    April 19, 2014

  • SPL - PT041014 - Ken de la Bastide column - Ken sig Ken de la Bastide: County may eliminate Data Processing Board

    Action two weeks ago by the Madison County commissioners to close Data Processing Board meetings to the public might run afoul of the Indiana Open Door law, and a local resident is considering filing a complaint with the Public Access Counselor’s office for a determination.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Timmons, Theresa mug Theresa Timmons: Dinosaurs run amok at mamaw's house I love my new job as a grandparent. It includes playing imaginary tennis with imaginary tennis rackets, making elaborate tents in the living room, and hair-pulling.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stringer, Maleah mug Maleah Stringer: Volunteers needed to spend time with shelter animals Shelters can be extremely stressful places for many animals, particularly those who have been in a loving home. This is why we want people to come into the shelter and spend time with our animals — to help keep them adoptable so that when the right person comes along they are ready.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bailey, Jim mug Jim Bailey: Wages were much less back then, but so were prices If you have any questions about what economists mean by inflation, just look at yesterday’s buying power. Those old western movies talked about wages of $1 a day. That wouldn’t even buy a burger at a fast food joint today by the time sales tax is added in.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

Will you vote in the primary election on May 6?

Yes, on May 6
Yes, will vote early
No
     View Results