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Fri Jan 11, 2019, 10:55 AM

Why is Congress so dumb?

In a year of congressional lowlights, the hearings we held with Silicon Valley leaders last fall may have been the lowest. One of my colleagues in the House asked Google CEO Sundar Pichai about the workings of an iPhone ó a rival Apple product. Another colleague asked Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg, ďIf youíre not listening to us on the phone, who is?Ē One senator was flabbergasted to learn that Facebook makes money from advertising. Over hours of testimony, my fellow members of Congress struggled to grapple with technologies used daily by most Americans and with the functions of the Internet itself. Given an opportunity to expose the most powerful businesses on Earth to sunlight and scrutiny, the hearings did little to answer tough questions about the tech titansí monopolies or the impact of their platforms.

Itís not because lawmakers are too stupid to understand Facebook. Itís because our available resources and our policy staffs, the brains of Congress, have been so depleted that we canít do our jobs properly.

Americans who bemoan a broken Congress rightly focus on ethical questions and electoral partisanship. But the tech hearings demonstrated that our greatest deficiency may be knowledge, not cooperation. Our founts of independent information have been cut off, our investigatory muscles atrophied, our committees stripped of their ability to develop policy, our small staffs overwhelmed by the army of lobbyists who roam Washington. Congress is increasingly unable to comprehend a world growing more socially, economically and technologically multifaceted ó and we did this to ourselves.

When the 110th Congress opened in 2007, Democrats rode into office on a tide of outrage at the George W. Bush administration and the Republican Congress, which had looked the other way on the Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham scandals. My colleagues and I focused our energies on exposing corruption. But we missed crucial opportunities to reform the institution of Congress. As my party assumes a new majority in the House, we confront similar circumstances and a second chance to begin the hard work of nursing our chamber back to strength.

Our decay as an institution began in 1995, when conservatives, led by Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), carried out a full-scale war on government. Gingrich began by slashing the congressional workforce by one-third. He aimed particular ire at Congressís brain, firing 1 of every 3 staffers at the Government Accountability Office, the Congressional Research Service and the Congressional Budget Office. He defunded the Office of Technology Assessment, a tech-focused think tank. Social scientists have called those moves Congressís self-lobotomy, and the cuts remain largely unreversed.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2019/01/11/feature/why-is-congress-so-dumb/

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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2019, 11:12 AM

1. K&R for visibility. To the greatest page. nt

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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2019, 11:20 AM

2. Redumblicon members of Congress reflect the constituents that

voted them into office. deplorable stupid idiots vote for the same.

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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2019, 11:49 AM

3. The US Senate, World's Greatest Deliberative Body, afraid to deliberate Garland or Trump.



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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2019, 12:34 PM

4. A cousin of mine (an actual "rocket scientist") was hired away from NASA to advise...

Congress on which end of the rocket is up. (Many didn't know)

He had little good to say about Congress, but hated Gingrich when he got fired. He ho problem getting another job, but thought the situation was horrible. Muttered about how our science was going down the tubes.

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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2019, 01:07 PM

5. How Irrational Was it to Elect "R" Men to Government who Campaigned on Government as the Problem?

It started at the top, back in the 1980s, with Ronald Reagan repeating over and over that government was the problem. No one ever once asked that as head of the government, what did that make him? From there, the assault on our government grew, with Newt Gingrich and his cronies ramping up their money grab. The government is people, it is us, and we can change it. A good start would be calling out those currently in government and those running for office who complain the government is the problem. Why are they really there? Their stealth agenda has been to remake our country into an oligarchy, with the government as their personal piggy bank, and they have made enormous progress to that end. Now, with the Trump debacle, we have reached a critical crossroads and must find a way to fund our country's research and development, as well as ramping up funding for enforcement and oversight to replace all of the watchdogs that have been systematically put to sleep over the past decades. Otherwise, we are looking at a very dark future for our country, if it survives.

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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2019, 05:37 PM

6. Lobbyists are doing the legislating. Congress also needs to stay in DC and work.

Stop with all the trips home every week. Great article.

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