Fixing Congress: Suggestions by Rep. Jim Cooper and Others

Jim Cooper, Democrat of Tennessee, wrote an article for the Boston Review on how Congress can’t function anymore. Several political scientists (including myself) and others wrote brief responses. (This seemed to me to be a rare chance to write something that would be read by at least one congressman.)

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper: Congress is willfully blind to our nation’s worst problems. Has it always been this bad? How did it get this way? What can we do to change it?

Kenneth A. Shepsle: Congress has enjoyed periods of reduced partisanship, but they never last.

Norman J. Ornstein: Ban fundraising in Washington, D.C. while Congress is in session.

John Samples: Allow a supermajority of states to write, propose, and ratify constitutional amendments.

Kathryn Pearson: Every speaker since Gingrich has sought to maximize the influence of party leaders.

John G. Geer: Polarization has some real upsides.

David W. Brady: Leaders need to build majorities supporting their views, not tinker with rules.

Nick Nyhart: In March, amid joblessness, a new war, and a budget crisis, members of Congress hosted more than 300 D.C. fundraisers.

U.S. Rep. David E. Price: Strong leadership and committees can be mutually reinforcing, producing better bills.

Stephen Ansolabehere: Americans once yearned for disciplined parties, but the results are not what we expected.

Andrew Gelman: Getting Congress to act responsibly on economic issues goes against what society teaches us.

Jim Cooper replies: Isn’t it disturbing that no one can say for sure where members of Congress stand on key policies?

[Cross-posted at the Monkey Cage]

Andrew Gelman

Andrew Gelman is a professor of statistics and political science and director of the Applied Statistics Center at Columbia University.