It is universally acknowledged that Congress is all screwed up, but ideas differ on how to reform it.
Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), in accepting the Speaker of the House position, admitted, “The House is broken. We are not solving problems. We are adding to them.”
But how to fix what is broken?
In my opinion — and according to virtually every survey of Americans for the last 20 years — term limits would be the best first step.
Speaker Ryan, sadly, is no term limits fan. But at least he calls for “opening the process up” and a “new spirit of transparency.” Ryan promises “not [to] duck tough issues,” while seeking “concrete results.”
Chris Cillizza, writing “The Fix” blog for The Washington Post, predicts Ryan will “probably not” succeed.
Cillizza cites four big problems, the last two are obvious, though undefined: “3. Polarization in the country” that results in “4. Polarization in Congress.”
His No. 1 reason for the dysfunction in the House? The ban on earmarks. “Without a carrot to offer wavering members on contentious legislation,” Cillizza complains, “leadership had to rely almost exclusively on relationships and goodwill.”
Forget persuasion on the merits; apparently, congressional leadership should bribe members for their votes.
Next, Cillizza bemoans the “rise of outside conservative groups” able to speak against incumbents they oppose and for those they support. This means “the party leadership could no longer choke off campaign funds to those who refused to fall in line.”
“Falling in line” isn’t the right reform goal.
Meet another member of the Washington press corps with a strange hankering for boss rule.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.