Stop valuing winning over governing
In school, we are all taught how our government works. Congressional hearings are held to consider a bill’s effects. Experts are brought in and testimony is given so that all sides are heard from, and then the bill’s merits are debated. The more important the bill, the longer this deliberation can take, and this system, though slow, brings out strong, thoughtful legislation.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way anymore. This year with healthcare and now with tax reform, Congress has skipped all that thoughtful deliberation. Instead of bringing experts from all sides together in hearings to craft better legislation, the GOP is vainly attempting to hammer square pegs through round holes. The squarer the peg, the bigger the hammer they swing.
Is this good government? How can it be? How will this single-sided, thoughtless process ever lead to good legislation? How will the lack of good legislation lead to a stronger nation? Our very own Senator Hoeven and Representative Cramer have voted repeatedly for bills that were so rushed with so many last minute changes that no one understands the effects they have.
Healthcare reform would have affected 20% of our economy and millions of people, yet Congress didn’t hold a single hearing. Not one! Now we’re into the largest tax reform since President Reagan, and the same scenario is playing out. No hearings, no debate and little thought. In 1986, it took 16 months to pass a thoughtful, bipartisan tax reform bill, yet now the GOP wants to force tax reform through in a couple of weeks. Are they kidding?
The average working person is disregarded, while the wealthy and the corporations have an open door to Congress. I don’t know how the “drain the Washington swamp” idea was supposed to work, but someone opened the wrong valve and the entire mess drained right onto the House and Senate floors.
This is a terrible way to govern. This is putting corporations over working people, the wealthy over the middle class and special interests over democracy. In strong democracy, winning a battle should never take precedence over governing.
Hedegaard is president/
secretary treasurer of the North Dakota AFL-CIO