Researcher and Writer in Washington, DC

Posts in category Congress

Want to shrink government? Invest in making Congress smar...

Want to shrink government? Invest in making Congress smarter

Barely one in five Americans approve of the way Congress is operating. It is overwhelmingly clear that Congress needs to do a better job of understanding complex policy issues, being responsive to communications from the American people, and overseeing the 170-some agencies of the executive branch. Thankfully, after decades of institutional decline, Congress is finally taking steps to revitalize itself. In January, the […]

Congress’ tech policy knowledge ...

Congress’ tech policy knowledge gap

“Suppose you were an idiot,” Mark Twain once quipped, “and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.” Like Twain, libertarians tend not to think highly of elected officials. We view them as corrupt, in cahoots with interest groups, and obsessed with politicking instead of governing. And, as Twain quipped, dumb. Oh, so, […]

GAO versus the ghost of OTA: Who will win the science and technology assessment ra...

GAO versus the ghost of OTA: Who will win the science and technology assessment race?

Hardly anyone would argue that Congress is well equipped to make technology policy. Very few members are techies, and let’s face it, innovation is hurtling forward at a mind-blowing pace. Nor is Congress and its basic modus operandi — serving as a bargaining arena for diverse interests — particularly congenial to the use of data […]

OK, so the House wants to reform itself? Here’s what it should really...

OK, so the House wants to reform itself? Here’s what it should really do

Early this month, on the opening day of the 116th Congress, something unusual happened: The House of Representatives took a step to reform itself. Legislators approved a package of rules changes to fix some of its more glaring problems. Some of these are long overdue: As of Jan. 4, representatives can no longer sit on […]

A Book You Cannot Trust: Robert N. Winter-Berger’s The Washington Pay-...

A Book You Cannot Trust: Robert N. Winter-Berger’s The Washington Pay-Off

On June 8, 1960, the New York State attorney general Louis J. Lefkowitz enjoined Winter-Berger from the securities market. Why? Because Winter-Berger had defrauded folks by peddling non-existent stock to rich folks, to whom he passed himself off as a “prominent socialite.” The corporation and the miracle product he described did not exist. He made […]

A truckload of watermelons: Five OMG’s from John Lawrence’s “The Class of ‘...

A truckload of watermelons: Five OMG’s from John Lawrence’s “The Class of ‘74”

John Lawrence has some tales to tell. He served nearly four decades in the House, culminating as the chief of staff to Nancy Pelosi during her stint as speaker from 2007-2011. Lawrence’s book, The Class of ‘74: Congress After Watergate and the Roots of Partisanship (Johns Hopkins), was released earlier this year, and is a heady, political […]

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