Strengthening Congress

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-08-17
  • Publisher: Indiana Univ Pr

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With the benefit of an insider's perspective, distinguished former congressman Lee H. Hamilton argues that America needs a stronger Congress and a more engaged citizenry in order to ensure responsive and effective democracy. Hamilton explains how Congress has drifted away from the role envisioned for it in the Constitution as a body whose power and influence would be preeminent in the American system of government. He details the steps that Congress should take to re-establish its parity with the executive branch and become an institution that works reliably and effectively for the betterment of the nation-reinforce congressional oversight, restore the deliberative process, curb the influence of lobbyists, and reduce excessive partisanship. Concurrently, Hamilton calls upon Americans to take more seriously their obligations and responsibilities as citizens and engage with the critical issues facing their communities and the nation.

Author Biography

Lee H. Hamilton served Indiana in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1965 to 1999 and is Director of The Center on Congress at Indiana University Bloomington and President and Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He is author of How Congress Works and Why You Should Care (IUP, 2004).

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Why We Need to Restore Power to Congressp. 1
The Intent of the Foundersp. 1
Ceding Responsibilities to the Presidentp. 4
Why Does Congress Want to Give up Power?p. 7
What it Means when You Take That Oath of Officep. 10
A Stronger Voicep. 12
Congress Should Do More than Tinker with the Budgetp. 12
The Decision to Go to Warp. 16
Initiating Policyp. 18
Understanding Congressp. 20
Strengthening Congressional Oversightp. 23
Broken Oversightp. 23
Every Administration Needs Oversightp. 26
Oversight Needs to Be Systematicp. 28
Restoring the Deliberative Processp. 31
Why Congress Needs the Deliberative Processp. 31
Omnibus Billsp. 34
Congressional Debates Need Facts, Not Spinp. 36
Why Congress Isn't Efficient, and Shouldn't Bep. 38
Congress Should Not Be Just about Winningp. 41
To Govern Well, Return to the Basicsp. 43
Reducing Excessive Partisanshipp. 45
Congress Depends on Civilityp. 45
Why Is Congress So Partisan?p. 47
Why Holding the Majority Mattersp. 50
How Do We Reduce Partisanship?p. 52
Strengthening Ethics Enforcementp. 55
Congress Needs to Invigorate Its Ethics System, Not Weaken Itp. 55
Why Ethics Should Matter to Congressp. 57
Getting Outside Helpp. 59
Curbing the Influence of Lobbyistsp. 63
We Pay a Price for Special-Interest Lobbyingp. 63
Lobbying Murkiness Undermines Our Trust in Congressp. 66
True Lobbying Reformp. 69
In the End, Responsibility Lies with Politicians and the Votersp. 71
Strengthening Citizen Participationp. 73
Are the People Prepared?p. 73
First, We Need an Informed Citizenryp. 76
We Also Need a Citizenry That Looks for Candidates Who Respect Congressp. 78
Why Political Virtue Mattersp. 80
The Ten Commandments of Good Citizenshipp. 82
A Well-Functioning Congressp. 86
It Will Search for Remedyp. 86
It Will Look Aheadp. 88
It Will Help to Set the Agendap. 91
It Will Give Voice to a Diverse Peoplep. 93
It Will Forge Consensusp. 95
It Will Exercise Judgmentp. 98
It Will Be Led Responsiblyp. 100
It Will Engage in Genuine Consultationp. 102
It Will Seek the Common Goodp. 104
How to Judge Congressp. 107
Analyzing Congressional Argumentsp. 109
Twelve ways to contact your Member of Congressp. 113
Making your case Effectively: Some Do's and Don'tsp. 115
Notesp. 117
Indexp. 121
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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