Why did Congress not see the health exchange disaster coming? Why was it caught unawares by the extent of the NSA’s surveillance programs? Why are senior House committee chairmen in safe seats quitting Congress altogether?

These seemingly disparate phenomena share the same profound but poorly understood root cause: Congress is getting stupider. Not in terms of the IQ of its members (though that’s debatable) but in the capacity of the institution to evaluate information and understand complex topics. The reason is a 25-year campaign by conservatives to cut congressional staff, shrink investigative agencies like the General Accountability Office, and generally lobotomize Congress’ brain. As Paul Glastris and Haley Sweetland Edwards explain in the cover story of the latest Washington Monthly, the result is increasing outsourcing of policymaking to K Street lobbyists, think tanks, and other vested interests while Congress looses its ability to conduct oversight of the executive branch, thereby setting up government to fail.

Read “The Big Lobotomy: How Republicans Made Congress Stupid.”

The rest of the new issue is here.

Paul Glastris

Paul Glastris is the editor in chief of the Washington Monthly. A former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, he is writing a book on America’s involvement in the Greek War of Independence.