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Why I still have faith in congress


By Lee Hamilton

Fri, May 30th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

It’s depressing to read poll after poll highlighting Americans’ utter disdain for Congress. But it’s my encounters with ordinary citizens at public meetings or in casual conversation that really bring me up short. In angry diatribes or in resigned comments, people make clear their dwindling confidence in both politicians and the institution itself.

With all Congress’s imperfections — its partisanship, brinksmanship, and exasperating inability to legislate – it’s not hard to understand this loss of faith. Yet as people vent their frustration, I hear something else as well. It is a search for hope. They ask, almost desperately sometimes, about grounds for renewed hope in our system. Here’s why I’m confident that we can do better.

Let’s start with a point that should be obvious, but that people rarely notice: Our expectations are too high. In part, this is our elected officials’ fault: they over-promise and under-perform. They set the bar high — promising strong leadership, a firm hand on the legislative tiller, and great policy accomplishments — then usually fail to clear it.

Which should come as no surprise. Congress is not built for efficiency or speediness. On almost every issue, progress comes in increments. The future of the American health care system may appear to hang on the debate raging these days about the Affordable Care Act, but this is just the latest installment of a long-running fight that began even before the creation of Medicare and Medicaid almost five decades ago.

Congress deals with complex issues over many years and, sometimes, dozens of pieces of legislation. Focusing on any one moment in our legislative history is to miss the slow but undeniable advance of progress on Capitol Hill.

I also tend to be more patient with congressional leaders than many people who share their frustrations with me. Our political leaders confront a terribly difficult political environment: the country is both deeply and evenly divided along partisan and ideological lines. Getting 218 votes in the House and 60 votes in the Senate can be a punishing task. It takes skill, competence, and a great deal of passion to make progress in this kind of environment — especially when those in Congress who are dedicated to finding a way forward have to face colleagues who do not appear to want the system to work.

This brings me to a third point. If 50 years of .....
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Rep. Davids reviews 2014 legislative session

Fri, May 30th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

By Jason Wenisch ST. PAUL – On May 16, the Minnesota House of Representatives completed its business for the year and adjourned the 2014 legislative session. State Representative Greg Davids (R-Preston) said that one party legislative control h ..... 
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Many farmers are seeing dramatic property tax increases thanks to Democrats

Thu, May 29th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

By State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) and State Senator Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls) As legislative Democrats now pat themselves on the back for supposedly providing tax relief to farmers, the facts show that most of them will actually ..... 
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Legislative wrap up

Thu, May 29th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

By Jeremy Miller Senator serving Fillmore, Houston and Winona Counties The 2014 legislative session wrapped up with the legislature adjourning Sine Die on Friday, May 16. While this session was hectic and demanding, it was also very productive. We ..... 
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Why I am a Democrat

By Yvonne Nyenhuis

Mon, May 26th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

Steve Colbert recently pointed out that the “2 percent” of wealthy people in the United States are a “minority”, therefore Democrats should be nice to them! On C-SPAN an elderly man was interviewed. He said that being part of the “top 1 pe ..... 
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Guest Commentary

Mon, May 26th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

By Eleanore Jones Taxpayers fund one-third of abortions in Minnesota, according to figures released in early April by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. This is cause for serious concern and discussion. Consider, first, some history. Begin ..... 
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Obamacare will cost Minnesota’s schools $200 million

Fri, May 23rd, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

If you weren’t a fan of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) before, you’re about to like it even less. We’ve heard from the people who were kicked off of their health insurance thanks to Obamacare. We’ve heard from those who are not able to see th ..... 
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Bad to be good

Mon, May 19th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

Is there any value to being good? It seems to me that, the more I read and the more I experience, being good can be more of a liability than a virtue in the years that have followed the terrorist attacks, the two wars, and the 2007 meltdown. Think ..... 
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One Moment, Please... The Choking Game?

Mon, May 19th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

Parents of school-aged children have a lot of things to keep their eyes on as they raise them to adulthood. And, those years seem to be just as much learning years for the parents as they are for their children. When our children have homework, t ..... 
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