Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gang of 12: Partnering with Republicans for the greater good of the world’s leading economy?

Keywords or Terms: Democrats; Republicans; Gang of Twelve; Sen Patty Murray (D-WA); Sen. John Kerry (D-MA); Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT); Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI); Rep Fred Upton (R-MI); Rep Jeb Hensarling (R-TX); Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH); Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ); Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA); Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-SC); Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA); Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); Compromise; Balanced Approach; Lawmaking

Democratic lawmakers in congress are too often circumspect of the true intentions of their Republicans Counterparts; and vise-versa. Who can blame them, considering the recent stalemate regarding the lifting of debt ceiling? While Democratic Leaders in Congress were perceived by the public as conciliatory, Republican Leaders were found to be at the mercy; or in imprisonment, of a factional group within their party; a difficult situation that made negotiations and reaching compromises on raising the debt ceiling, rather difficult. It wasn’t only that the Republican leadership felt captive to the Tea Party faction among their rank and file, it was the fact that their ability to reach compromising deals with Democrats were hijacked by the potential 2012 Republican Presidential campaign strategy; a unique difficulty that made citizens of the nation to wonder, if the work of the people was actually being done; and, if politics is not tromping public policy; or, if the demands of an extreme group in American politics have not completely scuttled the democratic process. If the objective of the recalcitrance from the Tea-baggers was to harvest votes, they may be surprised about what the recent polling of the public’s perception of the congressional stalemate and who is to be blamed; or, what the result of the national election may bear out come 2012.

Considering the unfortunate pronouncement of one of the leading Republican Senators from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell, a position that is probably shared by many within the Republican Party; and, one that is better left for a Republican neophyte lawmaker to utter rather than a Republican leader with an appreciable length of time or experience in congress; and who probably understands better what it means to govern, if there is anything like that, one must just wonder what was going on in the mind of the senator when he mentioned the unfathomable. To paraphrase the senior Senator from Kentucky: “I am working hard to ensure that this President is a one term President.” With an attitude like this, no wonder, it was difficult for the forty-two freshman class of Tea Partiers, to get their bearings or understand that enacting a bill in congress, is a game of negotiations and compromises, renegotiation and reconciliations, and not recalcitrance and ingratitude; a process which occasionally may look untidy and wish-washy, but actually works to get a representative workable result.

The differences in both parties’ extreme factions were at the hub of the challenges that the world’s economy is probably facing right now. When extreme groups within either political parties demand extreme positions and are willing to let the whole nation go into financial default, then you begin to question the discipline of many of our lawmakers. Can Congresswoman Bachmann be running for the office of the Presidency if she is championing this type of reckless negligence in leadership? When the needs to garner political votes become the compass for bill’s formation and lawmaking, when the desired position of achieving true results for the people of the country becomes secondary to individual politician’s objectives or those of a minority group within either party, then we are about reaching a threshold of anarchy.

In addition, if the leadership in either political party is unable to convince enough members within their party to vote for a proposal, you start to question the leadership within congress and begin to wonder, if the leadership of either parties has been adopting the right strategy and leadership approach in managing the rank and file among congressional lawmakers. It is probably wise to ask that the process and culture of negotiations that are more result-oriented be adopted by either leadership of the political parties. Further, adopting this result-oriented approach in support of deliberations over a bill in congress is the ethos of good leadership and one that will have beneficial results for either party leadership. Holding firmly to myopic ideological stance as identified with the Tea-baggers within Republican Party, is not only selfish; it is also a probable disaster for a nation holding down to a quarter of the world’s gross domestic product.

Experienced lawmakers often believe they are responsible for keeping the rank and file of their political party in line during the difficult toil of developing and cradling a proposal, a bill, an idea or initiative to law in congress. Seasoned Congressional leaders understand that when they treat the legislative process with temperance or adopt re-conciliatory rules of engagement in managing the parliamentary process, they are able to achieve better results for all, the lawmakers and the country. While counseling the newer lawmakers on how to be in compliance with the ethos of respective parties are in order, it still behooves party leadership to maintain a duty in compromise to help achieve positive results during negotiations over provisions that may end up in a bill. 

Much as the temptation is to remain in complete compliance with the respective party’s ethos and identity, there is still the need for a give-and-take dynamics that are very essential for reaching accords on provisions in a bill that may end up as a law. Since when has it been the order of the day in congress to farm out legislative responsibility to a super congressional group, one nominated probably by a few insiders in either political party? Is this not undemocratic in the first place? Does it not call into question the right of the people to choose their legislators without an abridgement of same rights by those same lawmakers who have failed to appreciate their roles and responsibility in addressing a concern and or, passing a bill, like one meant to trim the excesses in the national budget? To resolve the stalemate and challenges that leaders in both parties have not been able to agree to, party leaders have now chosen their preferential membership to a super congressional group to resolve challenges that the party leadership in congress have not been able to resolve. Is this truly democratic or are we watching the dreams of our fore-fathers being scuttled, because some few, who hardly understand the essence of the democratic process, have decided to hold the whole country, ransom?

To break the strong hold of the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party in Congress, here are two unique perspectives that may add values to the leadership of the Republican Party; and, help free the leadership from the fury and clenching fists of the extreme group:

1)      Republican leadership must understand that this group is more of a fad; or as one politician puts it, political terrorists; and, the real drivers of their demands probably have nothing to do with saving the country from Economic Armageddon, but self-serving. As good as their intentions and clouts may be with those voters that sent them to congress, hardly can it be translated to effective leadership in congressional lawmaking. Incorporated into the process of lawmaking is the need for compromises, reconciliation, strategic alignments that are not pigheaded, and agreements to work for the betterment of the whole congressional legislative process; hence the nation. Republican leadership must therefore incorporate into their caucus discussions, the benefits of compromises and conciliation, the beauty of reconciliation and the benefits of identifying with the pluralities of party leadership, a true and tested group, who knows what parliamentary rules may be massaged or bent without subjecting the lawmaking process to a grinding halt or holding down the parliamentary process to a forced handicap.

2)      Republican leadership, just like the Democrats, need to transform their self-image and believe that they are capable of compromises. This requires the understanding of the challenges being faced by the opposition leadership regarding bringing together party membership in congress to address the difficult points and challenges arising from recommendations on provisions of a proposed bill. To really succeed in congressional lawmaking, to achieve the brilliance of fashioning out workable plans during difficult times for the country, there is a need to appreciate the difficult circumstance that the country is in and to muster the acumen for needed work and dedication to achieve positive results for the nation, even if it puts political party members in temporary difficult positions. This process requires the need to be proactive and having an inventive leadership who are able to bring centrist reasoning, essential for achieving success in the new modern day 24/7 News media environment of congressional lawmaking.

To reach the desired threshold for adapting to the new change in a media blitz lawmaking environment, support for provisions in a bill cannot always be organized around traditional ideological positions of respective parties; neither can the discussions of all items in a proposed or soon to be proposed recommendations in a bill, be based on the confines or preferences of a factional group which is bent on destroying all that is good in the whole democratic process. The ideologues are often at the extremities of either political parties and rarely do they hold or catch the essence of the future of the whole party, as it seems about the Tea Party group in the Republican Party of today. 

While it seems like the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party has usurped some of the party’s leadership, political observers of the party, describe the dynamics of the group within the Republican Party, as probably destructive or unwholesome for the new image of inclusiveness that the Republican leadership has been seeking among minorities. How can Republicans foster inclusiveness, if all they are seeking is to cut social security to the elderly, slash Medicare support for the vulnerable among us and demand or insists forbearance from the middle class and the poor, while safeguarding the interests of the rich? How can Republicans increase participation of minorities in their party when all they care about is safeguarding the interest of the rich at the expense of the poor; and or, relegating real problems of job creation for the millions out of work to a secondary status, to having tax cuts for billionaires?

For example, Republican leadership who allow the rich to get a tax brake for golf clubs and chartered private jet fuel, insist on cutting social welfare programs for women, infant and children.  How inclusive is this arrangement? Republicans continue to regurgitate failed pronouncements of supply-side economics in the job creation need of the nation. They continue to drum-up the fallacy that jobs in the private sector will never be created except more money is given away in taxes to the rich. Republicans may want to realize that all tax payers as a whole are paying for the excesses of the greedy rich, as they are allowed to pay less in taxes because of the ridiculous tax code and the opportunity afforded by many huge corporations to transfer their wealth overseas for job creation opportunities in other nations, majority of which could hardly care about what is going on in American homes.

At the same time that Republicans are inflating the contributions of the corporations to this nation in taxes, they are marginalizing the unions, students, teachers, bus drivers, and the elderly. Just as Republicans are delivering on their avowed commitments to the needs of the rich, they are bumping off children off subsidized state health care programs. To avoid further conflict, Republican leadership must now rain in the extremists in their party, scrutinize their demands and make them understand that this America is for all of us, the rich, the poor, widows, fatherless and the motherless; none of whom deserve to be marginalized on the grounds of narrow ideological ground.

For the newly nominated group of twelve legislators to be effective and successful in their negotiations over budget trimming and cutting deficit, it will be helpful, if no preconceived notion of an unyielding grounds or positions are adhered to by either of the six members a piece per party during negotiations. In order words, there must be the opportunity to consider a balanced approach, one that affords for revenue rising, while trimming the excesses in government spending. One approach is to look at the newly constituted group from congressional lawmakers, as an elite group, with particular goal of providing answers to most if not all questions that the past deliberations have failed to resolved for the nation. Whether the elite group has the opportunity to become the nation’s saviors with respect to our fiscal problems, depends on how each member perceives his or her role in the challenges before us, as a nation; not as a Republican or Democrat!
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