Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Government Procedural Reforms: Part 3

This is a continuation of challenge no. 4. Part 1 can be found here and Part 2 here.

I won't start this off with a bunch of jibber-jabber because trying to make politics interesting is like trying to make Dagmar look dangerous. So let's get on with my next two procedural reforms that will "help move Congress and the executive office back to being a government of the people and for the people" (challenge no. 4): 


Perhaps the chief obstacle to fixing America's finances is that no one agrees what's really on our balance sheet. When leaders in Washington debate our budget, they routinely use different baselines, projections and assumptions, which often conveniently support whatever policy they are pushing at the moment. To quote an old Scottish writer, many Washington leaders "use statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts - for support rather than for illumination."

The American people deserve to know what's really happening with our nation's finances, and we believe Congress should at least be able to work off the same set of numbers. That's why every year, a nonpartisan leader, such as the comptroller general, should deliver a televised fiscal update in-person to a joint session of Congress. The president, vice president, all cabinet members, senators and congressmen must attend this fiscal update session and take individual responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the comptroller general's report by signing the report, just as CEOs are required to affirm the accuracy of their company's financial reporting.


In January 2010, President Obama attended a House Republican retreat to publicly debate the merits of the president's proposed healthcare law. For a few hours at least, the American public got to see our leaders engage and truly debate with one another.

We haven't seen anything like it since. Today the president and members of Congress can more often be found talking past one another through the media. The issues facing our country are too important to be decided by a war of partisan talking points. Let's get the ideas on the table, debate them and let the American people decide.

We should take a cue from the British Parliament's regular questioning of the prime minister to create question time for the president and Congress. These meetings occasionally may be contentious, but at least they force leaders to actually debate one another and defend their ideas. Here's how it would work: on a rotating basis the House and Senate would issue monthly invitations to the president to appear in the respective chamber for questions and discussion. Each question period would last for 90 minutes and would be televised. The majority and minority would alternate questions. The president could, at his discretion, bring one or more cabinet members to the question period and refer specific questions to them.

Reforms #7 and #8 will make their debut next week. I know! You can't hardly stand to wait that long! My apologies. Here, have another puppy:

No comments:

Post a Comment