Some mistakes die hard. House Republicans, eager to paint democrats as opposed to negotiations, are proposing a new Super Committee. The so-called Super Committee was the result of the last round of 11th hour negotiations over the debt limit, the ill-fated attempt to forge compromise out of concentrated congressional privilege. The last Super Committee enjoyed the prospect of direct access to the House and Senate floor for their recommendations (had they produced any), to be created in an environment completely insulated from the press, constituents and electoral consequences. (Though lobbyists still had no problems penetrating it.) While it's unclear how this Super Committee would be structured, it's unlikely to matter much since it appears to be another dead-end ploy from House Republicans trying to paint their long-organized defunding effort as some sort of play for greater compromise in Washington. The Super Committee was a secretive, misbegotten failure the first time around, and we should consider ourselves lucky if this one never gets taken seriously.Continue reading
Because of some the work we’ve done before on last minute negotiations and divided government, Sunlight prepared the following graphic... View ArticleContinue reading
Just like the debt limit negotiations and Supercommittee process that helped cause it, the so-called "fiscal cliff" of expiring laws is creating another round of secretive negotiations among our political leaders. The heads of both parties now thrive on stories of impending fiscal consequences, even when they're of their own making.To cope with a polarized electorate, our leaders have figured out a way to create an apparent impending disaster that is unpalatable regardless of one's ideology. Whatever the outcome of their fight with each other, they've created a dystopian future against which they can be made to look like heroes warding off impending doom with their brave bipartisanship.
It doesn't really matter which party started it (both of them) or whether this was avoidable (it was), because divided government has again led us to a place where the most important policy decisions are probably going to be made in secret, and then passed down to the rest of us.
While online disclosure and dialog don't threaten to take away politicians' power anytime soon, they do represent our best chance at elevating substance, rewarding merit, and reducing undue influence, whether in crafting legislation or in dealing with the struggles of divided government. Sunlight's approach to government transparency has made us skeptical observers of these political negotiations, and as we find ourselves entering yet another cycle, we decided to ask:
What can we expect of the next month, and what should we do about it?Continue reading
Regardless of who wins the presidential election, the next administration will have enormous power to say how open our government will be. We have organized our priorities for the next administration below, to share where we think our work on executive branch issues will be focused, in advance of the election results. From money in politics to open data, spending, and freedom of information, we'll be working to open up the Executive Branch. We'd love to hear any suggestions you might have for Sunlight's Executive Branch work, please leave additional ideas in the comments below. (We'll also be sharing other recommendations soon, including a legislative agenda for the 113th Congress, and a suite of reform proposals for the House and Senate rules packages.) Sunlight Reform Agenda for the Next Administration:Continue reading