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Tag: No Labels

The “Nuclear Option”, and Some Common Sense Filibuster Reform

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Recently is was announced the Harry Reid and the Democrats in the United States Senate will be going the route of the “Nuclear Option” in regards to the filibuster. Republicans over the last few years have changed the market for the filibuster by doing to more than ever before, and by doing it on items that have never before been filibustered (Presidential Nominations). I personally am sad to see this happen, but I also understand a bit of why it is happening. The group No Lables, who I worked for a few years ago, has been pushing for bipartisan reforms for the last 3 years. I receive still receive their emails, and this is an excerpt from their most recent email about the “Nuclear Option”. If you are interested in learning more I suggest looking into who they are and what they are doing.

 

NO LABELS on the Fill:

GOING NUCLEAR: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this morning he plans to use the nuclear option to reform the nomination process to remove filibusters for most presidential nominees. This is an unprecedented move, one that when Reid was the minority leader said that the “nuclear fallout” would bring even more gridlock in a chamber that is already slow moving, according to Paul Kane. One solution to avoid this hyper-partisan move is our proposal to have presidential nominees be subject to an up-or-down vote within 90 days of the nomination: Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan for The Washington Post: The Senate is at Defcon-1 and about to change forever. Here’s what that means.

On their website here is how the filibuster reform is presented:

Up or Down Vote on Presidential Appointments

The Problem

When our Founders gave the Senate “Advice and Consent” power over presidential appointments, they hoped it would encourage the president to appoint qualified people and avoid conflicts of interest.

Today, it’s the senators themselves who seem to have conflicts of interest, with key presidential appointments routinely held up for trivial reasons or to serve the narrow interests of a single senator. In one notorious case from 2010, a senator held up over 70 presidential nominees at once to secure more federal spending for his state.

As of late 2011, more than 200 presidentially-appointed positions remained unfilled. In the last few years the directorship of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, key positions at the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve and numerous federal judgeships have been left unfilled for reasons that have little or nothing to do with the quality of the nominees.

– See more at: http://www.nolabels.org/work (#2)


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Speaking with OK Representative Tom Cole

Last night I had the pleasure to sit in at the Town Hall meeting for United States congressman Tom Cole. I already had a rather favorable opinion of Mr. Cole, but last night reaffirmed the necessity of people like him in congress for me. Mr. Cole is a Republican, and I generally have trouble with the politics of the Republican Party of today… The moderation and willing participants of the party have become fewer and fewer. If Congressman Cole had been speaking in Boston I’m sure that they would consider him to be a complete hardline conservative, but those same people would not understand the culture in which Mr. Cole is a representative.

At the town hall there was probably about 30 to 40 % of the room that was made of of Tea Partiers who considered Mr. Cole to be a “socialist”, and I’m not being inflammatory, they were yelling this at him… Representative Cole happens to be regarded by many conservative organizations as highly conservative, and rightfully so. He resembles the Republican Party of 20 and 30 years ago that would not fit in today in the conservative caucus – people like Steve Largent, J.C. Watts, Bob Dole, and many more who do not look like today’s rhetorical hail storm.

Whether you live in Norman, Oklahoma or not I ask that you look for town halls for your representative, and go speak to them, and see who else speaks to them. There is a lot of disrespect, and a lot of anger. If you don’t think that the congress is sane (and I have major problems with our congress) just go see who they have to deal with when they come home… You might rethink the individuals and the system a little bit.

Well to wrap it up, I had an opportunity to speak with the congressman about joining up with the group No Labels, for whom I worked a few years ago. This group, as of today, has 82 members of the house and senate virtually equal from the parties, who are signed up to a commitment to make our government work for the people. It’s a seemingly easy promise to make, but it could be the first step in the process to ending this gridlock, or at least I believe so.

Don’t forget to look up the town halls in your area, and to reach out to your congressmen and women about representing you.

*These pictures were taken this April when I was visiting D.C. and had a chance to revisit the No Labels back office for the first time in 2 and a half years.

Just stopped by the @NoLabelsOrg back office to see old friends. Love the people, and the ideas. #FixNotFight

A post shared by Grady Carter (@gradycarter) on

The New Economic Risk: Complacency – Steve Rattner

A couple of my favorite political things collided in this article: Steve Rattner, and No Labels (who I used to work for). I’d be very interested to know what kind of measures might be proposed as Mr. Rattner suggests in this article.

The world is complicated, so while reading about large often controversial topics like the ones discussed in this article I suggest attempting to observe yourself, and whether or not you have your mind made up before you read about such challenging things or not.

The New Economic Risk: Complacency

Posted: 21 Jun 2013 07:06 AM PDT

Originally published in the New York Times

With each month of steady employment growth — in May, 175,000 jobs were created — the feeling of lassitude around the issues facing the American economy takes hold a little bit more.

Amid the gathering drumbeat of pronouncements of economic optimism, most dramatically from the Federal Reserve Board on Wednesday, the feeling of dread that used to bubble up in the moments before each month’s jobs report has largely dissipated.

That’s good news, certainly. But still, the thing that has replaced our collective dread may be even more dangerous in the long run — and that’s complacency. The slowness of our economic recovery should remain our biggest national worry, particularly as that sluggishness is manifested in inadequate job totals and stagnant incomes.

For example, the Hamilton Project, a research group based at the Brookings Institution, has calculated that on the current trajectory, it would take until October 2022 for the unemployment rate to return to its level at the end of 2007, just before the recession began, when it stood at 5 percent.

That would mean nine more years in which too many Americans without steady incomes struggled to make ends meet.

Even if the rate of job growth accelerated to 200,000 per month, it would still take until late 2020 to get the nation back to full employment.

Equally concerning is the stagnation of wages. Over the past four years, the average incomes of Americans (after adjusting for inflation) have remained mired at 2008 levels. With income inequality incontrovertibly rising, that means that most Americans have suffered cuts in their purchasing power.

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But here’s the really incredible part: despite these worrisome facts, Congress has been doing nothing, absolutely nothing, to address the problem.

Or of late, any of the nation’s real problems. The 112th Congress, which ended on Jan. 3, passed 17 percent fewer bills than any previous Congress since 1948 (and possibly even before that), according to the Library of Congress. And this Congress is already off to a slower start than its predecessor.

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Small-government conservatives may view this as good news; the less government does, the happier they say they would be. I have a different opinion. I believe we have plenty of challenges and that it’s Congress’s job to address them.

For his part, President Obama has been faithfully unfurling proposals, including major ones during the last presidential campaign and in his new budget, released in April. And since early spring, he has tried to mobilize public opinion by journeying to places like Austin, Tex., Baltimore and Mooresville, N.C., on his “Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour.”

But neither the tepid economic data nor the president’s exhortations have moved Congress. After demanding that the Senate Democrats pass a budget for the first time in four years, a clutch of important Republican senators are now refusing to participate in the next procedural step, a conference committee between the houses of Congress to reconcile their competing budget proposals.

So instead of pounding out thoughtful policy, Congress hurtles toward the next fiscal crisis — a double showdown this fall over financing the government for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, and over raising the debt ceiling that limits the federal government’s ability to borrow money to finance its budget deficit.

No one should be surprised, then, that the American people’s confidence in Congress has now dropped to 10 percent, the lowest on record.

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It’s time for Congress to do something. That doesn’t mean that I’m signing up with those who advocate a Japanese-style exercise of scattering huge sums of government money willy-nilly to try to stimulate the economy. That may provide a short burst of energy, but it would compound our debt problem — yes, we still have a big one — without offering long-term relief.

Happily, there’s no shortage of smart policy programs that, for small amounts of money (at least some of which could come from trimming other parts of the budget), could address the structural problems that are holding back our jobs recovery.

For example, last week, the left-leaning Center for American Progress released an exhaustive compendium of ideas, some of them hugely idealistic (like overhauling the tax code), but others quite manageable in the short term. One such idea is to reprogram education spending to better target science and engineering — areas where the next generation of jobs is likely to emerge.

Similarly, President Obama’s latest budget provides for long-term deficit reduction while carving out additional funding for critical needs like establishing an infrastructure bank.

And yet, Congress has let these and other good ideas wither on the vine.

Maybe the solution is to borrow one good idea from Republicans. At Republican leaders’ insistence, an earlier budget deal included a requirement that lawmakers’ salaries be held in suspension if the Senate and House did not each pass a budget. The threat seemed to work: both chambers passed one.

Now it’s time to extend that concept to force Congress to do something to spur job growth and prepare the next generation of American workers — something, that is, other than the misguided sequester now in place.

Today I’ll Be at The Meeting to Make America Work! – No Labels

2 years ago I stumbled upon an amazing group of people, and they are now undeniably a part of my personal story. While living in Pennsylvania/D.C. I was contacted by a group called No Labels, and they told me that they were attempting to do something that I’d never heard of in real terms, conquer the growing American political divide in Washington with actual policy proposals. But with our toxic political field we needed more than just changes of the rules, we have to attack our fracturing heart with relational strategy to welcome voices of reason to talk once again, reassuring them that they have support for being responsible for all of the citizens that they represent.

In December of 2010 I had the honor of helping other like minded people from around the country speak with one another at the No Labels national launch. I met politicians and news tycoons alike, and hearing them describe the America that I dreamed of, where differing ideas are considered beautiful, but deferential representation wasn’t acceptable.

Well, it’s 2 years after the launch and No Labels is doing it again. Today I am in New York City volunteering at the second grand installment of No Labels bringing people together to propose real reforms that demand that we have a functional government. Platforms like Make Congress Work! and Make The Presidency Work! are full of ideas that can help us step forward in a time where we are constantly faced with a standoff of special interest controlled parties.

I am excited to see No Labels gain traction hosting people today such as Governor Jon Huntsman (Republican) and Senator Joe Manchin (Democrat-WV). Not to mention Governor Huntsman’s daughters… I’m glad to know the wonderful people who work for this organization.

Please examine their proposed platforms for getting us back on the right track, and let me know what you think. I realize that this sounds somewhat vague, but I have to be up in a few hours to Make America Work! (which is the theme of this conference). I will say that the proposals that seem to elicit the most excitement from my experience are: No Budget – No Pay (congress doesn’t get paid if they don’t pass a budget), filibuster reform (allowing bills to be introduced before being filibustered, as well as actually making people physically talk and filibuster like in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington). But look at the lists and see which proposals most intrigue you.

And if you are seriously interested in what I’m saying I would recommend checking out their website, but also go to Netflix and look up the movie Patriocracy (it actually talks about No Labels for a few seconds).

Ok, I must sleep. Please let me know if you have questions about any of this, and feel free to watch the meeting or following allowing on twitter @NoLabelsOrg.

-Grady

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From All Sides, Fiscal Plans Fall Far Short of What’s Needed – Steve Rattner

From All Sides, Fiscal Plans Fall Far Short of What’s Needed.

Well, long story short, I agree with Mr. Rattner again. I think that he’s right that neither side has had a sufficient plan, but that doesn’t make their proposals equal (that would be just too convenient for the Ralph Nader’s of the world, who I actually do like). I think that in the middle of these debates it would have been wonderful to watch real reforms take place. Let’s look at it from a health stand point, as if our nation was a human body – we are having a very hard time trying to stop the bleeding from our wounds after having fallen on our face in a drunken stupor, but we don’t seem willing to stop the drinking that is causing our wounds inside and outside of our body… Does that make senses? We have a broken system, and it can’t get better until we have a discerning decision making body that wants to live and thrive. I have plugged this group multiple times before, but maybe it takes some outside ideas to get things working again, and I think No Labels might be our 12 step program… If for no other reason I encourage you to check out their plans for reform that would help us move forward, especially their plan to Make Congress Work.

– Grady

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From All Sides, Fiscal Plans Fall Far Short of What’s Needed

Millionaires Meet with Grover Norquist – YouTube

Millionaires meet with Grover Norquist – YouTube.

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This is the kind of debate that I love to watch. Grover is definitely teamed up on in this video, but being the voice of this movement that doesn’t often have to answer for it’s self I I’m kind of ok with that. Hearing him defend himself does help me to appreciate what he is doing, but I still find that his influence has had a net negative impact on our government and our people. What do you think about this?

A Whisper in The Storm: The Final Reckoning – NYTimes.com

The Final Reckoning – NYTimes.com.

“Until there is a conception of participating in a democratic society, and a conception which is real – not just words and it means that we really are participating in a democratic society, until that’s the case discussion of taxes is fiddling with technicalities, and missing the point.” – Noam Chomsky, ‘An Inconvenient Tax’ (Film)

First of all I have to admit to having added to the title of this article. I added “A Whisper in the Storm” as an homage to how much I enjoyed this article.

Before you go any further I want to encourage you to read the article below… If you don’t have too much time, or you know that you might get bored with me please skip down to Mr. Brooks, I really doubt you’ll regret it.

Believing in something, or being defined by one’s background can often be a point of comfort and belonging. Having identity and individuality can be a very fulfilling thing, but people seem to perceive their individuality as reasoning why they can’t cooperate with others. This is The United States of America’s great identity crisis.

Americans want to be individuals, but they want to do it together, until it’s inconvenient… We have common cause and purpose in this nation, and in this world. Seeking commonalities seems like the best way to coexist. But finding out who you are can be just as important to a persons sense of purpose and worth. I like to classify myself as a social libertarian – which I think is actually much more in-line with the American electorate than either party, but you’d never know it from the 24 hour news cycle or the political gamesmanship we can’t seem to escape. One of the reasons I classify myself as such (as of right now) is that I believe in liberty based on a balance of a very democratically monitored and limited republic, while aiming to not allow my brothers and sisters of this nation and this world to live a forgotten and tragic life.

I don’t agree with Noam Chomsky all of the time, but I do have great admiration for him. His quote above symbolizes part of our struggle in my mind. Bill Maher is also someone who identifies as a social libertarian, regardless of how offensive he can be (I’m particularly don’t like how he makes fun of the middle of the country as he does). This post isn’t about my political philosophy so much though. Instead of going into petty politics (which is what happens anytime you put a face/name to any ideas) I would rather talk about the importance of sticking to talking about ideas.

David Brooks has my complete political admiration in his firm moderate grasp… I know I just said we should talk about ideas and not people, but David is one of the few people who knows how to talk about ideas so clearly that it can’t be personal. He’s good at his job… Before I really knew who he was I actually had the opportunity to meet him at the No Labels national launch, and I actually didn’t recognize him until after I’d spoken with him. He was incredibly kind, even though it was kind of my job at the time to know who he was… Well, this article moves me, and inspires me. Mr. Brooks is critical, and fair about the tone of today in my opinion. He is a moderate Conservative (which seems to be a rare bread in the mainstream anymore), and his words seem to lack all of the talking points that you hear in the main stream of the politics of today. I won’t attempt to explain what he’s trying to say, there’s a reason why he is so revered, he is good at using his own words. So, I would just like to remind you that this is a conservative man who has put into exact words how I feel about this election… I only say that because being from Oklahoma, and living in Arkansas it’s not all that difficult to be accused of being radically liberal, and I don’t think that I am (sorry for making it about me…).

Please, please share this article with your friends or family who are voting angrily (regardless of ideology), or who are seemingly lost in trying to understand what is happening in our country. I hope you enjoy the read, and I’d love (as usual) to get your feedback by whatever means you’d like.

Oh, one last thing. If you are ready to start hearing some voices that want to get our nation to get passed some of our shameful bickering I urge you to check out the wonderful organization No Labels. Perhaps you’ll enjoy their “12 Ways to Make Congress Work”, especially the No Budget – No Pay portion of their proposal.

-Grady

OP-ED COLUMNIST

The Final Reckoning

By

Jan. 20, 2009, was an inspiring day. Barack Obama took the oath of office and argued that America was in a crisis caused by “our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.”

It was time, he said, to end the false choices between the orthodox left and the orthodox right. He called for “an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics. … In the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.”

Obama acknowledged that some people questioned the scale of his ambitions, the scope of his grand plans. But, he continued, “What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.”

In some ways, President Obama has lived up to the promise of that day. In office, he has generally behaved with integrity and in a way befitting a man with his admirable character. Sure, he has sometimes stooped to the cynical maneuver. Contemptuous of his opponents, he has given himself permission to do the nasty and negative thing. But politics is a rough business and nobody comes out unsullied.

In moral terms, he hasn’t let us down. If he’s re-elected, his administration would probably remain scandal-free. Given the history of second terms, that is no small thing.

Moreover, Obama has been a prudent leader. He’s made no rash or disastrous decisions. He’s never acted out of some impetuous passion. His policies toward, say, China, Europe and Iran have had a sense of sober balance. If re-elected, he would probably commit no major blunders, which also is no small thing.

But the scope of Obama’s vision has contracted over the years. It has contracted politically. Four years ago, Obama won over many conservatives and independents. But he’s championed mostly conventional Democratic policies and is now mostly relying on members of his own party.

It has contracted managerially. Four years ago, Obama went to the White House with a Team of Rivals — big figures with big voices. Now the circle of trust is much smaller and political.

The mood has contracted. The atmosphere of expansive hope has often given way to a mood of aggrieved annoyance. He seems cagier, more hemmed in by the perceived limitations of his office. The man who ran on hope four years ago is now running one of the most negative campaigns in history, aimed at disqualifying his opponent.

Most of all, the vision has contracted. The arguments he made in his inaugural address were profoundly true. We are in the middle of an economic transition, a bit like the 1890s, with widening inequality, a corrupt and broken political system, an unsustainable welfare state, a dangerous level of family breakdown and broken social mobility.

The financial crisis exposed foundational problems and meant that we were going to have to live with a long period of slow growth, as the history of financial crises makes clear.

If Obama had governed in a way truer to his inauguration, he would have used this winter of recuperation to address the country’s structural weaknesses. He would have said: Look, we’re not going to have booming growth soon, but we will use this period to lay the groundwork for a generation of prosperity — with plans to reform the tax code, get our long-term entitlement burdens under control, get our political system working, shift government resources from the affluent elderly to struggling young families and future growth.

When people say they wish Obama had embraced the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction plan, they don’t mean the specific details of that proposal. They mean the largeness that Obama’s inauguration promised and the Simpson-Bowles moment afforded. They mean confronting the hard choices, instead of promising more bounty for everyone with no sacrifice ever.

But the president got sucked in by short-term things — the allure of managing the business cycle so that the economy would boom by re-election time. Instead of taking the midterm defeat as a sign he should move to the center, or confound the political categories, he seems to have hunkered down and become more political. Washington dysfunction now looks worse than ever.

Sure, House Republicans have been intransigent, but Obama could have isolated them, building a governing center-left majority with an unorthodox agenda. Instead he’s comforted the Democratic base and disappointed sympathizers who are not in it.

One final thing. No one is fair to President Obama. People grade him against tougher standards than any other politician. But his innate ability justifies that high standard. These are the standards he properly set for himself. If re-elected, he’d be free from politics. It’d be interesting to see if he returns to his earlier largeness.

Casualties of Gridlock…

Casualties of Gridlock.

I’ve talked about this before, but almost 2 years ago I had the chance to spend a short time working with No Labels, mostly in their preparation of their national launch, and the launch was really a life changing event for me…

I had the opportunity to meet a few people who I think highly of in both the Democratic and Republican world. This event also solidified that I would start, and have continued to watch Morning Joe pretty much every single day for free on itunes (I don’t have cable). Joe and Mika were very kind, and they are a great example of having a conversation that people can watch and use as a jumping off point for their own conversations with people who they disagree with. Of course these conversations aren’t always pretty on Morning Joe, and they wont always be pretty elsewhere, but it’s a start. That is what No Labels is designed for, getting passed the stagnation that we face in this country. Please go to the No Labels Facebook page, and their Website if you find this at all interesting. I recommend checking out their No Budget – No Pay platform.

It really is such a shame that things have gotten so toxic… I think a third party would actually help eliminate some of this problem, but maybe I’m just to much of an optimist.

Is Joe Scarborough the Second Coming of John Wayne?

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As someone who watches the Morning Joe podcast every single day I have grown to love Joe Scarborough. We have some disagreements politically, and he plays political games of semantic proportions quite often, but I’m ok with it. I actually got to meet Joe and his co-host Mika Brzezinski at the launch of “No Labels”, which is a political group I worked for for a couple of months in Fall of 2010. I recommend looking into No Labels if you are interested in seeing what can be, and is being done to combat hyper-partisan politics.

Well anyways, I would imagine that Joe would love this comparison, I just had post it.

No Budget – No Pay! (Make Congress Work)

So I had the honor of getting to work for No Labels in the fall/winter of 2010, and I really enjoyed it. I had the chance to meet a few famous political figures and see them in action, and my favorite part was that they were from different parties and parts of the country. If you are actually interested in hearing some ideas about how to get the government to start working again you should check out the No Labels “Make Congress Work” campaign, which is actually listed below. Feel free to comment and let me know what you think.

Make Congress Work! | No Labels (Click Here for Website).

Make Congress Work!

Make Congress Work! is No Labels’ first grassroots campaign to effect real change in our government.

At a time when our nation faces immense challenges, the American people have never had less faith in the ability of Congress to do anything about them.

This problem couldn’t be more serious – because if Congress is broken, so is the United States of America.

Every law addressing any substantial issue has to go through Congress first. That means if we want a better tax code, a balanced budget, a better immigration system or more effective educational and energy policies, we first need to fix our broken Congress.

No Labels believes the biggest problem with Congress is not necessarily the people in it. It’s the outdated rules, procedures and traditions that govern the institution and make it impossible for anything to get done. Congress has become a place where even good, talented people get dragged down by a broken system. But if the rules of Congress change, we can make our government work again.

Our dozen proposals to Make Congress Work! mostly don’t require new laws or any new spending, and they don’t favor any party or particular cause. These are simple, straightforward proposals to break gridlock, promote constructive discussion and reduce polarization in Congress. They can be adopted, almost all at once, when the next Congress convenes in January 2013.

Throughout 2012, No Labels will conduct an intensive grassroots campaign to mobilize 1 million people behind our action plan to Make Congress Work! again.

[Click here to view a pdf of our Make Congress Work booklet]

Breaking Gridlock

  1. No Budget, No Pay: Congress rarely passes spending bills on time, which makes it virtually impossible for members to intelligently consider why they are spending taxpayer dollars in the first place.  No Labels Solution: If Congress can’t make spending and budget decisions on time, they shouldn’t get paid on time either.
  2. Up or Down Vote on Presidential Appointments: The Senate now routinely holds up critical presidential appointments to the Cabinet and the courts for purely political reasons.  No Labels Solution: All appointees should receive an up or down vote within 90 days of their name being sent to the Senate. If deadline is not met, the nominee would be confirmed by default.
  3. Filibuster Reform: Constant use of the filibuster has ground the Senate to a halt.  One reason the filibuster is used so often is that senators don’t even have to show up on the floor to explain themselves anymore.  No Labels Solution: Our filibuster fix is based on a simple idea: If senators want to filibuster legislation, they should actually have to publicly explain why. Also, filibusters can be used to prevent a bill from reaching the floor for debate (motions to proceed). Eliminating the filibuster for motions to proceed would allow more issues to be debated and voted on by the whole Senate.
  4. Empower the Sensible Majority: Good legislation that is supported by a sensible bipartisan majority often isn’t even debated because congressional leaders or committee chairs see political benefit in keeping Democrats and Republicans at one another’s throats.  No Labels Solution: House and Senate rules should be reformed to make it easier for a bipartisan majority to bring legislation to the House or Senate floor over the objection of party leaders.
  5. Make Members Come to Work: Part of the reason why Congress can’t get much done is that they’re not showing up in the halls of the Senate or House more than a few days a week due to constant fundraising and trips home.  No Labels Solution: Congress could get more done if they actually came to their offices in the capital.   The House and Senate should be in Washington, DC for three weeks in any given month.  The House and Senate should also have five-day work weeks and they should be in session at the same time.

Promoting Constructive Discussion

  1. Question Time for the President: Leaders in Washington rarely debate one another anymore, choosing instead to just talk past one another through the media.  No Labels Solution: America should take a cue from the British Parliament’s regular questioning of the prime minister to create question time for the President and Congress.
  2. Fiscal Report to Congress: Hear it. Read it. Sign it:  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 tend to conveniently support whatever policy they are pushing at the moment.  The No Labels Solution: Every year, a nonpartisan leader, such as the comptroller general, should deliver a fiscal update that must be signed off on by our senior political leaders, just as CEOs are required to affirm the accuracy of their company’s financial reporting.

Reducing Polarization

  1. No Pledge but the Oath of Office: One of the biggest barriers to solving problems in Congress is that many members literally sign away their ability to legislate with repeated pledges to narrow interest groups.  The No Labels Solution: It’s time to cut the puppet strings that allow narrow interest groups to control members of Congress. Members should make no pledge but the Pledge of Allegiance and their formal oath of office.
  2. Monthly Bipartisan Gatherings: Democrats and Republicans in Congress rarely socialize or even meet with members of the other party anymore.  Like any workplace, Congress depends on good human relationships to function. When there are no relationships, there is dysfunction. The No Labels Solution: To get members talking to one another, both the House and Senate should institute monthly bipartisan gatherings.
  3. Bipartisan Seating: More often than not, seating in Congress resembles boys and girls at a middle school dance, with each side keeping an (un)comfortable distance from one another.  The No Labels Solution: It’s time to curb the cliques in Congress. At all joint meetings or sessions of Congress, each member should be seated next to at least one member of the other party.
  4. Bipartisan Leadership Committee: In today’s Congress, almost every meeting or get-together is partisan, with legislative problem-solving taking a back seat to discussion of how to stick it to the other side.   The No Labels Solution: Congressional party leaders should form a bipartisan congressional leadership committee as a forum for discussing both legislative agendas and substantive solutions.
  5. No Negative Campaigns Against Incumbents: When incumbent members of Congress from one party negatively campaign against the incumbents from the other party, it destroys the trust necessary to work together.  The No Labels Solution: Incumbents from one party should not conduct negative campaigns against incumbents from the opposing party. That means no appearing in negative ads, no signing nasty direct mail letters and no traveling to an incumbent’s district or state to play attack dog. Members would, of course, be free to campaign or fundraise in support of candidates from their party.
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