Why We Do Not Need a More Powerful Presidency
Casey Burgat and Kevin Kosar write in Washington Monthly:
“Once upon a time, we had a legislative branch that could help govern. The House and Senate had long-serving leaders at the top and heading the committees who knew how to cut deals and make policy. Competent committee bosses like Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) conducted rigorous oversight of both the government and the private sector, and were aided by professional staff who treated public service as a calling.
“Sadly, a great deal of that professionalism vanished over the past three decades. Newt Gingrich and other fire-breathers adopted the mindset that the Congress that governs least governs best (“The Big Lobotomy,” June 2014 and “A New Agenda for Political Reform,” March 2015). Congress spent much of the past two decades diminishing its capacity to govern. The legislature has reduced the time it spends in Washington, cut its committee staff, and shrunk the number of nonpartisan researchers who work for the Congressional Research Service and the Government Accountability Office. It also entirely defunded the Office of Technology Assessment just as the internet was beginning to emerge.
“Lately, Congress has woken up to the insanity it wrought, and it has begun to reinvest in itself a little bit. In the past year, Congress has voted to strengthen the investigatory powers of Inspectors General and the GAO. It increased its appropriation to CRS by $1 million this year, and voted to spend a little more money on House of Representatives staff last year. But, the old “cut government” madness has not yet subsided. Legislation introduced this year to refund the OTA failed. Worse, this summer a few House Freedom Caucus members tried to cut the staff at the Congressional Budget Office and outsource the scoring of legislation to private think-tanks….”