Sept. 23, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

New Books Focus on Congressional Reforms

Bradley’s book contains the best concise analysis I’ve seen of the crash of 2008 and asserts that the “root of all evil” is the ability of special interests to buy the policies they want.

“A lobbyist will talk to you about a bill at 4:30 in the afternoon. He’ll often give you useful information. But then at 6:30, he’ll hold a fundraiser and hand you a check for $10,000.”

Ornstein and Mann favor barring lobbyists from making campaign contributions, but they don’t think public financing will ever fly with the public.

For them, the root of evil is that “one of the two major political parties, the Republican Party, has become an insurgent outlier — ideologically extreme, contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime, scornful of compromise, unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

They say that Democrats “have become the more status quo oriented, centrist protectors of government, willing to revamp programs and trim entitlements and health benefits. ... And rank-and-file Democrats (along with self-identified Independents) favor compromise to solve problems over deadlock.”

Mann and Ornstein urge the mainstream media to call out the Republicans.

I agree with them that the tea party and its allies have pulled the GOP far, far to the right — as evidenced its absolute refusal to support revenue increases even to avoid a government default on its debt.

But I’d put more blame than they do on Democrats — for instance, President Barack Obama’s failure to embrace his own debt commission’s recommendations and his reliance on government to solve every problem.

Still, the burden of both of these books is correct: America needs political reform to secure economic revitalization. And to secure political reform, we need a citizens’ reform movement of the progressive center to match the energy of the tea party on the right. Starting soon — before it’s too late.

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