Weil Interview Please take one minute to evaluate our website. Click here to take the survey.
Polarization, a breakdown in governing norms and lack of a sense of shared responsibility are among the top 10 reasons for the current failure of the policy process, according to Justin Schardin of the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC). He and his colleague Matthew Weil describe BPC as a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that brings Democrats and Republicans together to come up with proposals that can actually pass legislatively or be implemented by regulators.
Schardin calls polarization as bad today as it's been in over 100 years. There used to be more compromise, Weil says, but now everything is in absolutes, which hurts the policy process. And people are far more likely than they used to be to accept cues on issues from the national parties, even if they don't want to admit it.Schardin adds that fragmentation of the media makes it easy for people to hear messages only from those who agree with them.
A breakdown in governing norms means it's easier to block things than to get things done, Schardin says. Members of Congress now feel very free to use the filibuster and other tactics that previously, except in rare instances, they restrained themselves from using. Weil's project is working with some Senators to reinstate some of the old norms and make them part of the rules, but he says those efforts are running into a lot of resistance.
According to Schardin, getting rid of earmarks has harmed the ability of Congress to get things done. Removing the earmarks took away a "significant weapon" that allowed deals to be made in Congress. Weil points out, though, that despite all the barriers to compromise today, genuine negotiation on both sides of the aisle led to the recent federal budget agreement. He acknowledges that the process and the outcome were not ideal, but says both sides came away feeling they'd gotten something.
For the complete interview summary see:Schardin and Weil Interview
Most of the "causes" put forth by the interviewees were really symptoms.
For an elaboration on their comments read
Crisis Point, the new Trent Lott-Tom Daschle book
Interesting interview, and I guess I'm glad they are attempting to encourage bipartisan cooperation, but don't think they'll get very far until more fundamental issues are addressed. Probably the most important is campaign finance and I don't know what [the] Supreme Court would consider constitutional. Would like to ask Obama if he had any ideas when he mentioned this in [his] State of the Union and looked directly at the justices as if asking for their ideas.
Regarding the media I would offer the following. My experience is that local news and local cable treated us very fairly as they had a concern for our community. State and national news went for the salacious, were unconcerned about balanced reporting, and the depth or complexity of an issue was not discussed at all. I did find that the Associated Press did the best job of reporting in a factual way and avoided the polarizing approach.
The social media and political blogs are brutal. Imagine the perspectives that people develop if that is all they read. It is very depressing to find our democracy at this point in history—where government itself is being vilified.
Is it possible that the Civic Caucus could partner with the BPC on an important issue here in Minnesota? I would love to see a bi-partisan effort in creating the World's Best Work Force. That would entail education reform at the high school and college level along with partnering with the private sector. Just a thought —or a dream.
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includes persons of varying political persuasions,
S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill
Frenzel, Paul Gilje (Executive Director), Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted
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