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Good News For Those Who Care About The Process Of Government

July 31, 2017

I had thought at one time–prior to the inauguration in January–that there was a chance for some type of bi-partisan action on some types of ideas such as infrastructure.  That of course did not happen as the White House never once made an overture to the Democrats.  As anyone who reads history or follows politics knows full well, making nice with the Senate Minority Leader is perhaps the wisest move a sitting president can make.

President Trump, instead, went out of his way to make Democratic Senator Schumer look small.  Trump’s action underscored his lack of knowledge and his absence of political skills.  But perhaps following the recent bruising results of Republicans on the health care reform measure there might be a real glimmer of hope for the type of legislative behavior that has often marked the best episodes in congressional history.

It is being reported that the White House is not wed to having congressional Republicans use the budget reconciliation process to advance a tax overhaul.  Excellent news for those who want a bi-partisan attempt made at crafting a bill.  By so eyeing red state Democrats up for re-election as possible partners in the effort I can say for the first time in six months those who think about the process of governing can feel good.  

It would be a grand thing if regular order once again dominated the process in Washington.

For too long, on both sides of the aisle, the political leadership often were the ones who set in motion the bills that were then basically handed off to the respective caucuses with instruction for passage.  The fruitless attempts by the ham-handed Senate Republicans over the past month with health care is proof of the folly with such an undertaking.   The old-fashioned way of governing where–as in the proposed case for tax reform–the House Ways and Means Committee is expected to mark up a bill first, with wide-ranging input.  That means there is a healthy process for ideas to be aired and a wider selection of members able to buy into the final proposal.

I understand the political game of using reconciliation for the tax bill.  The reconciliation process would allow the Senate to pass a tax bill with only 51 Republican votes.  But then it is only a Republican bill for a nation that is so divided and strained by partisanship.  Crafting a measure that has buy-in from each side is the way that the effort is met with some national acceptance.  I strongly suspect a smarter end product will be produced and the deep sniping and attacks could be restrained.   That would be a real crowd-pleasing outcome!

To achieve what would be best for the process of governing, and the resulting policy goals means the GOP needs to get the support of eight Democrats under regular order.  With an open process and the true melding of ideas I trust and hope it can happen.

Look, at this point we all need to have at least some faith that the way our civics books taught us how this republic should work can indeed again be the way it does operate.  I am truly pleased that tonight the White House for the first time has made an effort in that direction.  Lets all work to make it succeed by contacting our elected ones in Washington and urge for bi-partisanship.

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