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What We're Reading: Commission on Political Reform, March 26

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s (BPC’s) Commission on Political Reform highlights news articles, videos and other relevant works which provide coverage on the partisan political divide and those that promote specific electoral and congressional reforms to help Americans achieve shared national goals. We circulate these articles to provide a broad view of bipartisanship, reforms and reactions. The views expressed in these articles do not necessarily represent the views of the commission, its co-chairs, commissioners, or BPC.

The story of Washington gridlock seen through the eyes of Bob Dole

By Michael Kranish, The Boston Globe

It was 1989, and Senator George Mitchell, the Maine Democrat, had become the majority leader. Dole was the minority leader. At their first meeting, Mitchell said he promised Dole, “I will never criticize you,” and Dole agreed to the same. “To this day, we never have had a harsh word,” Mitchell said in a February interview. “It is an important thing that leaders have some degree of trust.” The two remain “dearest friends,” Mitchell said.

Dysfunction in Washington further hurts the economy

By Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC

“People are frustrated and deeply concerned about the gridlock that has paralyzed Washington and its ability to address issues that obviously require our attention as a country.”

States Gone Wild

By Bill Keller, The New York Times

There is nothing especially new about states going their own way. We fought a civil war, after all. And we have become accustomed to categorizing states as red or blue, based on their electoral choices. But it feels as if every news cycle brings another seemingly random example of a state veering off the mainstream, especially on these issues of personal liberty. What’s up with that? Read the full Op-Ed here.

President May Be Quarterback, but Today Congress Plays a Different Game

By John Harwood, The New York Times

Like quarterbacks in football, presidents are central to most Washington stories. So discussion of budget gridlock often revolves around whether President Obama plays as effectively as his predecessors.

But institutional changes on Capitol Hill may be just as important as the president’s skills to whether Washington can, or cannot, achieve the “grand bargain.” If presidential leadership does not look the way it did in Lyndon B. Johnson’s day, neither does Congress play the same game anymore. Those changes have grown more relevant now that Mr. Obama has stepped off the negotiating field to let lawmakers pursue a deal. Read the full article here.

Fitch: Members of Congress Are Working Hard, but Are They Accomplishing Much?

By Bradford Fitch, Roll Call

In 1994, not long before he was about to make history as the first speaker of the House of Representatives in 130 years ousted in a re-election bid in his home congressional district, Speaker Thomas S. Foley, D-Wash., watched a focus group of constituents. The facilitator asked his voters in eastern Washington about the life of a congressman. An ironworker described what he thought dinner would be like at a congressman’s house: a limousine would take him to a mansion in Georgetown and he would be served a sumptuous meal. . . eating foods the constituent would not recognize and using utensils the average person would not know how to use.

Foley was stunned. The gap between his constituents’ understanding and the reality of his daily routine was shocking. He was probably remembering the tuna sandwich he wolfed down for lunch earlier in the day, snuck in between the 13 meetings and 14-hour day he — and most members of Congress — experienced daily. Read the full Op-Ed here.

New faces offer new hope for bipartisanship in Congress

By Anna Tuman, MSNBC

Fresh evidence Friday that some of the fresh faces on Capitol Hill are making an effort not to follow in the footsteps of the congressional class that came before them.

While many of the newcomers in 2010 became known for increasing the gridlock on the Hill, at least some of the freshman class of the 113th Congress are trying to embrace bipartisanship. In fact, a group of 36 freshman members signed a letter last month calling on leaders of both parties to “put partisanship aside and our country’s future first.” Read the full article and watch the video here.

2013-03-26 00:00:00

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