Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

December 20, 2013

LEE HAMILTON: Congress still isn't being responsible

Attractiveness of American model under challenge

(Continued)

Unlike many members of Congress, Americans seem to understand things that ought to be done are not getting done, and that there are real costs to inaction. We’re in a competitive race with China for world leadership, and whether we like it or not, others around the globe are comparing our two governments. The attractiveness of the American model is under challenge, and our political dysfunction is a serious handicap. As the Wall Street Journal put it recently, a superpower that isn’t sure it can fund its government or pay its bills is not in a position to lead.

And because problems aren’t getting addressed, others are stepping into the breach at home, too — but with less transparency, less accountability and less flexibility. The Fed is doing the heavy lifting on the economy. The Supreme Court is essentially legislating. Executive branch agencies are trying to handle massively difficult challenges through executive orders. State and local governments have decided even on issues they can’t truly address effectively, like immigration, they’re on their own.

When asked about all this, congressional leaders tend to blame the other house, arguing they’ve done their best but the other side has bottled up their efforts. All I can say is, finger-pointing is not an excuse, it’s an admission of failure. A leader’s responsibility is to enact legislation, not just get a bill through the house of Congress he or she controls.

Legislating is tough, demanding work. It requires many hours of conversation about differences, commonalities and possible solutions. It demands patience, mutual respect, persistence, collegiality, compromise, artful negotiation and creative leadership. Especially when Congress is so divided.

Yet when Congress meets only episodically throughout the year, when it often works just three days a week and plans an even more relaxed schedule in 2014, when the House and Senate give themselves just one overlapping week this month to resolve huge questions of public policy, you can only come to one conclusion: They’re not really willing to work hard at legislating. A last-minute flurry of bills offers hope, but it’s going to take a lot more work to convince the country Congress knows how to live up to its responsibilities.

Lee Hamilton is director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University Bloomington. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • DAVE BANGERT: Indiana's new chief justice and court's 'mom question' Two years ago, as Loretta Rush ascended from Tippecanoe Superior Court 3 judge to the state’s Supreme Court, I dropped this line in a column celebrating someone who had earned her place.“Across the state, the headline will be: ‘[Mitch] Daniels Choose

    August 14, 2014

  • JEFFREY McCALL: POTUS promises of transparency fail to materialize The United States system of government relies on citizens having full access to information that can be used in self-governance. Journalists and other First Amendment advocates were enthused when the Obama administration came into office with convinc

    August 14, 2014

  • Rob Burgess House of Burgess: RIP Robin Williams

    I was re-watching the 2006 movie “Little Miss Sunshine” Monday when I heard my phone buzz. After the credits had rolled, I looked at the screen and found myself shocked.It was a news alert that Robin Williams had died that morning at the age of 63 of an apparent suicide.

    August 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • ANDREA NEAL: 'Paddle Your Own Canoe' is a Hoosier inspiration

    Editor’s note: This is one in a series of essays leading up to the celebration of the Indiana Bicentennial in December 2016. James Whitcomb Riley was the most acclaimed, but he wasn’t the first Hoosier poet to gain national fame. Sarah T. Bolton dese

    August 13, 2014

  • DAVE BANGERT: Rokita, illegal immigration, Ebola outbreak and context At first listen last Monday, there was something so unsavory about our congressman, Todd Rokita, whipping up two full-fledged crises — Central American children at the U.S. southern border and the African scourge of Ebola — into one pungent sound bit

    August 12, 2014

  • DAN COATS: Let's give nonprofits relief from IRS delays A flurry of scandal has recently surrounded the Internal Revenue Service.Over the past few months, we have learned about missing emails from IRS employees and revelations of clear bias and hostility by a top IRS official towards organizations with ce

    August 12, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: Pitchforks and pikes in our summer of discontent Congress is ... embarrassing. Our political system is failing us. On an individual basis, many of us have respect for members of our delegation. We can have a common sense conversation with a senator, congressman or congresswoman, and then they go ba

    August 11, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: Enough reminders to forget It began with a simple phone call to my friend, Auri, a computer geek I asked to help me with my very successful website, which right now is attracting up to three visitors a month. To have a strong online presence, you have to spend several hours a

    August 11, 2014

  • ED VASICEK: Outsourced jobs, health crises in foreign lands The other week, my Internet was giving me trouble. I called the support number, and — to my surprise — I spoke to a representative who sounded as American as apple pie. It turned out the technical problem was an oversight on my end and fixed quickly.

    August 10, 2014

  • MICHAEL HICKS: Dodging corporate taxes Corporations are among our oldest institutions. Something like a joint stock company probably triggered the earliest formal written communication — the accounting ledger. It should be unsurprising that the early traders of Mesopotamia used a corporat

    August 10, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Raw: Russian Aid Convoy Arrives in Ukraine Hamm Talks Emmy Chances Okla. Policeman Accused of Sex Assaults on Duty Raw: Egypt Bus Crash Kills at Least 33 Two Bodies Found in Adjacent Yards Dominican Republic Bans Miley Cyrus Concert Raw: Israeli Air Strike in Gaza Raw: Rescue Efforts Suspended at Japan Landslide Raw: Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in Malaysia Raw: Smaller Marches in Ferguson Attorney: Utah Eatery Had Other Chemical Burn Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer Ky. Firefighters Hurt in Ice Bucket Challenge Federal Investigation Will Look at Use of Force Community Deals With Michael Brown Aftermath US: We Do Not Pay Ransom to Terrorists Life on the Professional Video Game Circuit Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle
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.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller