"Why Congress is so Dumb"
Dear Group, An article appeared on the opinion page of the Spokesman on Saturday, January 12, entitled "Why Congress is so Dumb," written by Bill Pascrell Jr., New Jersey's 9th Congressional District's Representative to the U.S. House of Representatives since 1996. It is worth your while to click and read the whole thing, but the take-home for me was this: Rep Pascreli documents a big problem. While lobbying from a multitude of interest groups has only increased, Congressional staffing, fact-gathering power, and the actual writing and debating the details of bills by real Congresspeople and their staffs has greatly diminished. This is the sort of thing thing that creeps up on the observer. It happens so slowly that many don't notice the change. This is outsourcing of Congressional function to lobbyists and think tanks that do self-serving "research," and offer model legislation to Congresspeople. On account of creeping staffing cuts Congress is woefully under-equipped to critically evaluate the offered "research." No doubt for some it must be a relief not to feel any need to critically evaluate, fact find, debate, and actually write legislation. After all, if one can rely, for example, on the Washington Policy Center, to craft bills and opinions then, like McMorris Rodgers, one can devote one's time to crafting message instead of critical thought. Her entire $1.3 million Congressional Representational Allowance can then be devoted to staying in office as part of the Trump team. For good reason Rep. Pascreli dates the beginning of this outsourcing to 1995 and the Speakership of Newt Gingrich, a key architect of our current political morass. I would go back farther to the Powell Memorandum of 1971 [click and read that section], although one might wonder if, were he alive today, even Lewis Powell would wonder if his memorandum had been heeded a little too well. There is an obvious solution: Roll back the staffing cuts that Gingrich set in motion, beef up the staff and fact-gathering institutions that have atrophied, and put Congress back on track to function as the deliberative body it is meant to be. I strongly encourage you to click and read "Why Congress is so Dumb," Please let me know by "Reply" email if it cannot be accessed on account of a paywall. Keep to the high ground, Jerry