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February 22nd, 2010
12:00 PM ET

Broken Government: How to fix Congress?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/22/tanner.davis.cnn.art.jpg caption="Rep. John Tanner and Tom Davis spoke with John Roberts on CNN's "American Morning" Monday."]

(CNN) - Gridlock. These days, many Americans feel that is all they are getting from their government.

To examine the problem and potential solutions as part of CNN's special series "Broken Government," we spoke with two men who decided to get out of government entirely.

Tom Davis served 14 years as a Republican congressman from Virginia. He retired in 2008 and is now the president of Main Street Advocacy.

And Rep. John Tanner, a Democrat from Tennessee, announced his retirement in December after more than 20 years in office.

They spoke with John Roberts on CNN's "American Morning" Monday. Below is an edited transcript of the interview.

John Roberts: Congressman Tanner, let's start with you. Evan Bayh said last week, when he announced that he wasn’t going to stand for re-election, that Congress is not functioning as it should. Do you believe Congress is broken?

John Tanner: I do, and I think it goes back really to 1962 in a case from Tennessee, Baker v. Karr, where the Supreme Court of the United States ruled every congressional district ... based on population, had to have approximately the same number of people. That has been refined, and now the gerrymandering that goes with that … that has gone all over the country.

What it means is the most partisan elements of our society, those on the left and right who believe their party is right and the other guy is always wrong, are electing, to the best of our count, almost 350 members of the 435 members here in the House. And so people are responsive to the people that elect them, so you have the left and the right here, and there’s very little in the middle.

Roberts: Congressman Davis, do you agree with that, that redistricting is the problem? We had a poll out last week, 63% of respondents think most members of Congress don’t deserve to be re-elected. Yet, on average, in an election, 90% of House members return.

Survey: 86% believe government broken

Tom Davis: 80% of the members come from districts where their race is their primary, it's not the general election. They don't get rewarded for compromising, they get punished if they compromise with the other side. By the way, the Voting Rights Act, [is] in concert with Baker v. Karr – because the Voting Rights Act … has made the districts even more partisan. The difficulty is a lot of these members’ races are in primary elections and not in generals. In primaries, you don't get rewarded for compromising with the other side, you get punished.

Roberts: Congressman Tanner, you have introduced – four years running now, I think – legislation to change how congressional districts are laid out. But it doesn’t seem like anybody is willing to go along with what you’re proposing.

Tanner: Yeah, we have. … We don't think that bill has much of a chance because of the obvious reasons. A lot of people are invested in this system. We are now going to introduce and almost have it ready what is called the Transparency Bill, which will hopefully allow for more public input and disclosure as this very technical process of redistricting unfolds next year.

I have argued the way the present system is, really it could be considered unconstitutional in that people who are deliberately put for only a political reason into a 70/30 or 80/20 district, have basically – if they’re part of the 30 or 20 – have basically had their vote taken away from them and they don't even know it. The 80% don't need them and they can't help the 20% and they don't even know what’s happened to them.

Roberts: Congressman Davis, is there something else at work here? Even though our poll found 63% of people feel most members of Congress don't deserve to be re-elected, the majority, 51%, said they believe their member of Congress deserves re-election. Our polling director calls it the BIMBY syndrome – better in my backyard. Their judgment is not lacking to the point where the person I voted for last time doesn’t deserve to get re-elected. So is that a problem as well?

Davis: The individual members I think come to Washington with the right motivation. They want to do well and then they get caught up in a system that was designed to be deliberative. We know it's not efficient and sometimes it's bordering on dysfunction or even being broken. Because leaders get elected, leaders’ report cards is do I get my members re-elected, and they spend their time making sure their party is looking good, as opposed to working together to get legislation through. It is a system that has been going on for decades now.

Roberts: Congressman Tanner, if you can't fix this through redistricting, which is what you’ve tried to do, is there any other way to get Congress to function as it should?

Tanner: It will be ultimately up to the people of this country who see the system itself is flawed. The members here, as Tom said, by and large come here wanting to do something good for the country. Democrat or Republican, it doesn't matter. This system has bred almost away from our representative system. It has bred this almost a parliamentary system. It makes no sense.

It’s irrational for me as a southern conservative Democrat to vote every time on every issue with a northern urban liberal, or western rancher, or whatever. And yet you see time and again here, all the Democrats voting one way and then the Republicans voting another way – except for the Blue Dog Democrats that I belong to. That's irrational, and it does not represent what our country represents, and that is, not a parliamentary system, but a representative system. So until you get to the root cause, I don't know how you make in-roads into really fixing the problem here.


Filed under: Broken Government • Politics
soundoff (127 Responses)
  1. Celeste Adams

    Congress need to have it’s health care stopped. The best scenario is to have them pay for their plans. There should also be term limits placed on Congress as it is with the President. I am outraged at the fact that the Republicans are out of touch with the problems that exist in America and being out of touch makes them a liability to everyone. The fact that my own Senators from Alabama don’t know that Blue Cross doubled the premiums on the seniors insurance to $141.00 a month under the seniors advantage plan this year, and increased the other plans as well or that there are so many seniors in Alabama that when they go into the donut phase of their Medicare prescription phase that they don’t take their medicine, because they can’t afford too, or that they only order a few pills a week and half them to try and cope with the burden of out of control insurance and prescription medicine! My Senators and Congressman’s are an eye soar to the world when they can’t be constructive citizens and help make our country better. And for the ones who have enjoyed a free pay check, good health insurance, wine and fine dinners, while letting our jobs leave America and letting our insurance get out of control well before President Obama took office, should honestly do an assessment of his net worth to the State and citizens that employ them and either work in our favor or come home and stop stealing my tax dollars by doing nothing. You can come home and fight with your spouses or your girl friends. My Senators are eye soars and dishonest, because they have taken our money, lied and stirred up chaos with no chance of being respectful to the people who voted for them. President Obama needs to take the gloves of and call them out, one by one. If the Republicans had ideas, they could have used it before now. The other problem is that an empty wagon makes a lot of noise.

    February 25, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
  2. Bernard Forand

    Despose of lobbyist,special intrest groups,conflict of intrest consultants,especially double dippers;In short despose bribing.They skew votes to financial perogratives....

    February 25, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
  3. dollar

    all the people in washington need to be throne out ,lobiest need to go. the commies in the white house need to be in jail for lieing about what they beleave. obamer is a lieing slime bag! willson was right on .impeach the commy.he is not for any white people .if he wants to do somthing then get rid of the illegals that suck off the gov, and its ok with the worthless white house in fact he wants to give everything to all the worthless slimey mexs , gangs that kill, rape, steel, tag, sell dope, id theft ,i say 30 days to get out then kill them were thay stand. i live in a small town in oregon tha are killing us for jobs traffic fines dwis drugs driveing rent out of reach. the laws arnt being inforced why? the lazy worthless cops dont inforce the laws on the books get the hell out .stop paying them for not doing the job.what is wrong with the people in the us ?is every one that stupid?

    February 25, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
  4. sirfur

    Let's face it America, they are pulling a smoke and mirrors scheme on us! As long as we just see them argueing then we won't pay attention to the mess they have already made! WAKE UP!!! Do you honestly think Sam Adams, John Adams, George Washington, any one of those gentlemen would put up with this? HELL NO!!

    February 25, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
  5. Chuck

    Jason said it best. FYI, I'm a fed.

    Not sure it is congress that is broken. I believe it is all the administrators in the government protecting their turf and feeding wrong data to congress.

    There is NO way anyone can really know how bad a office, bureau or a whole dam agency is. The people at the bottom learn from those at the top on how to bury you in worthless paper that states how well everything is going. Everyone at the top of any agency wants to believe them so they can keep their jobs and promote their ass kissing buddys. Thats just how it works. Members of Congress don't have a clue. Once in, the first job for them is to run for re-election. They don't have time to work and what's worse, no matter how bad they are or what is written about them, fools will keep re-electing them. Think George Bush !!!!!!!

    Also its the number of contractors doing the work. Most federal offices could not function without them, so the contractors have actual control. Most federal employees are just to monitor the contractors, so they have NO skills to do the needed jobs and/or even monitor the contractors. Thank Ronald Reagan for that.

    Management isn't even an idea known or wanted in most federal offices. Just build an empire of drones doing what ever they are told, thinking not required.

    Me, they hate me. So I'm no way near the top. Someone has to stir the pot and drive them nuts.

    There is ONLY one good rule: always vote the incumbent OUT !!!!

    February 25, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
  6. ejpro

    Graft, corruption, payoffs, special contracts, pork barrel rewards to local states it all part of politics in Washington!

    The whole concept of big, bigger and biggest government to protect the citizens is not a new thought.
    Thomas Jefferson said," My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.

    So with term limits, zero based budgeting, no lobbyists, fixed pay checks for all representatives and no outrageous benefit packages.

    Health Care is not a right given by the Constitution or the Bill of Rights!
    Rain in the insurance companies, reduce costs in hospitals, remember an aspirin does not cost $4.95!

    February 25, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
  7. Robert Burleson

    To fix the government several things have to happen #1 term limits on all congress.#2 Get rid of lobbiest.#3 Put all government on all the same plans as everyone else the the good old united states.

    February 25, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
  8. vananh

    kick out of Congress and out of Senate old useless members and bring the new ones in

    February 25, 2010 at 11:46 am |
  9. Joanie

    ... and I'm tired of hearing the poor whine! Go back to school. Listen, for one in your pathetic lives! Get used to hard work. There are many legitimate exceptions (and some of them live better than me due to good programs out there), but the truth is that there are many able-bodied people out there who are poor due to POOR CHOICES that THEY HAVE MADE THROUGHOUT THEIR LIVES, starting with drug/alcohol use and ditching school! Funny how many claiming to be poor have beautifully sculptured nails that I don't have the time or money to get (I'm too busy working!!!!!) To those that this applies, you know who you are and go and solve your own problems and don't look to me! Don't look to that stupid Obama either, because all he's going to do is turn around and bill me and I'm sick of that ... and I'm sick of him and so are many, many other people in this land!

    February 25, 2010 at 11:25 am |
  10. John Luke

    Nothing is wrong with Congress. It is not broken. Our democracy was not designed to run like some kind of efficient business. Making laws and public policy isn't like making profits. The people have the right to their representation by their three branches of the federal government which may be gridlocked at times for necessity.

    February 25, 2010 at 11:13 am |
  11. Dick

    Term Limits a must, Strip all retirement entitlements and be put on Social Security like all Americans and also Healthcare. Ban all lobby interest in all forms, One person, One vote in our country. Pay raises according to cost of living index. Do away with mid term elections, have all senate and house elections take place at same time.
    No monies for campaigns of sitting house or senate, their records should be their campaigns.
    Once terms are completed, get a job like other Americans.
    To serve in the Government should be a honor, not a situation where they become Royalty as present system puts them.

    February 25, 2010 at 11:11 am |
  12. Terry

    Our Government is not broken, our Presidency is broken.
    He is not willing to work at all with anyone, and CONTINUES to do exactly what he wants, NEVER mind what the majority of Americans work.
    We need a new President...not a Dictator.,

    February 25, 2010 at 11:02 am |
  13. Marvin

    I think congress is broker. Cause,"follow the money".

    1.Fix by enforcing McCain-Fienberg.

    2. Enforce the employment waiting period before government employees can work for businesses with whom they did business while in government.

    3. Senators should no longer be able anonymously to hold up appointments.

    February 25, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  14. Robert Barone

    If we are really sincere,we could stop all the B.S.down there.Let's hit them where it will hurt them.Either listen us the people who hired you are we will STOP PAYING your salary.And the way to do that is to go to the payroll clerk in you business and tell them to STOP taking Fed taxes out of your check.If al the people in the United States does this,they will take notice".We The People" can shut the government down by doing this.I've been writing letters to my newspaper telling my district on how my representative is doing and not doing.The town Hall meetings do work.Instead of Tea Parties,we should call them"We The People" and nail them to th wall...This is my view point.
    Another thing is get Oboma off TV.Doesn't this guy ever work.He spends more time on TV,than what he is worth.He is a Socialist and he is trying to get rid of our Constitution.We the people have to stop him.....

    February 25, 2010 at 10:14 am |
  15. Robert Barone

    The only way to fix Congress is to replace all of them with Women.We have to use women to get rid of the deficit that the MEN put us in.And that goes for the President too.Yes,our new TV program,Spend trillions on CNN...

    February 25, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  16. Dr. Goodman

    If some members of Congress, federal officials and other sinister individuals had not derailed a few ethical public servant politicians, the poor wuld not be sufferng as they are. Perhaps, several millionaires to tillionaires would have not have their money stolen by public and private financial institutions and criminals reducing the the poor class. The sad part is that some of these individuals involved are still involved in the federal government. It was a time when the poor would at least get food but in some communties especially in SW Georgia food maybe hard to find. People are suffering from hunger and malnutriton while others enjoy the money that they should have had.

    February 24, 2010 at 8:54 pm |
  17. debra

    The key is holding Congress accountable. No one currently can. The press either does not have the information or, more often, the time to get beyond the stock party answers that are given in soundbite form. After watching the Toyota hearings, how about giving the citizenry the option to convene an inquiry where members of Congress could be compelled to come and answer tough questions from the voters before the TV cameras?

    February 24, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
  18. Gertha Banks

    No one person can fix the Government, this is a job for Lord God and His people He has given us many sings of His jealous and wrath, like the greed in the Financial Institution, rising coast in gas prices Disasters around the World and Wars

    When Congress past a law to put God people under Non Profit Origination to establish Religion from this point forward they step in the way of God Holy Spirit moving forward among His people with Religion Leaders.

    This put most Religious leaders if not all along with the Government to commits Conspires against it people, why because the Government give Religious Leaders, and their followers a tax brake to teach and serve Lord God this also fall under Bribery

    With out the Holy Spirit of Lord God we are all under Bondage.
    With the Holy Spirit of God we can have the power to bring peace to the World, were money had no power to rule over people or a person like Pharaoh who knew about Lord God Holy Spirit and was not given the right to learn how to be born again in Lord God Holy Spirit, from a man like Joseph who turn away from the Holy Spirit of Lord God to be Governor of Egypt and took a bribe from Pharaoh

    The Government and most if not all Religious Leaders have taken the freedom of rights from it people to learn how to be born again in God His Holy Spirit under Non Profit Origination. Why because Religious Leader serves under the Government when they sing over their freedom of speech over to the Government in agreement not to take any part in Political Issues

    Most if not all Religious Leader lack knowledge of God Holy Spirit that was given in Lord God Ordinance that gives us an example of how life will serve us in Wars and Sin in the Old Testament This is the Love from Lord God to diver liver you from sin that was passed on to Christ in the New Testament as a Doctrine to teach His Disciples

    To give them all power to teach and encourage you to be born again in Lord God Holy Spirit to walk in peace, joys, and love, like Paul who gives you an example of life after being again in the Holy Spirit of Lord God

    Notice there was no Wars in the time of the Disciples, why because the Holy Spirit of Lord God was at work, and solves a problem when one failed from grace

    February 24, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
  19. c. crow

    A list of things to do to fix our broken government (congress and the senate):

    1. Public financing of government elections:
    Our public officials are owned by special interest groups that got them into office through money. They do not work for the people. Pay for elections only with public money. No outside money influence.

    2. Term limits:
    Limit the number of terms a public official can have. No more than 3 terms.
    This will force the bad ones out.

    3. Let the People vote on all issues in congress and the senate:
    Make the issues public and give the people 1 vote in the congress and the senate so the officials can see what the majority wants.

    4. Bar lobbyist from congress and the senate:
    If the members of government want information let then do research it.

    5. Require all laws to have known financing and a time limit:
    These run on programs that have no reason must be stopped.

    6. Pay the congress and the senate a large salary:
    Pay for the best people but this can only be done if term limits are in place. #2.

    February 24, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
  20. Darlene

    These are the things people everywhere need from Government...Life in a world free from war..Ample food for everyone....Satisfying employment for all who need it, so they can provide for themselves and there families....life not marred by sickness and disease...good and fair healthcare...Justice; Freedom form religious, racial, economic, and national prejudice..enjoyment of security... and I can go on and on..but..I think you get the point. Now,let us take a look at History what have we learned about Government? For thousands of years, political leaders have been promising their people better conditions. With what results? Althought the people in many nations have more material possessions, they are NOT happier, and the problems confronting them are more complex than ever. Question...Where is Babylon? Once a world power. Where is Medo-Persia? Once a world power. Man has had what? 7 or 8 world powers? What do we learn form all of them....Sadly, the answer is that imperfect man is just not able to bring about the conditions that humans really need....Is Government Broken...I concluded with this Question.....If it is not broken then what is it? Perhaps the words are" incapable" and "incompetent"? I'll let you decide...the answer is however too hard for many to accept...so we will see where it all ends up because there is NO QUICK FIX for this mess called "Government" or is there?.

    February 24, 2010 at 1:59 pm |
  21. chris esquibel

    it used to read "For the people by the people". Know it reads "For my pockets by my pockets"

    We need to get rid of all of them and start off fresh becasue the current postions being held are by people with values that have changed drastickly. we no longer think and act like them. finaly we need to make each and every one accountable for there actions like they due at work.

    February 24, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
  22. John

    Mark Twain wrote of the problems of our government (THE GILDED AGE, published in 1873) and those same problems still exist, the groups that can "grease the skids", aka lobbyist, get the results that they want– not the constituents. After 137 years what makes you think it's going to change???

    February 24, 2010 at 1:46 pm |
  23. Marv

    We certainly do NOT fix government by making it a "pay for performance" type system! It hasn't worked in the business world, so why would it work in government?

    Pay for performance only focuses individuals to make decisions that affect the short-term results, which may do more eventual damage to the system than the good short-term result. We need to create rules and regulations that work to change behaviors for the long term. Every regulation should be made with the thought of "how will this affect people in 50 years?" Decisions should always be made with that kind of foresight.

    If I were going to get rid of 1 wasteful government program, it would be the War on Drugs. We need rehabilitation of addicts, not jail sentences. If you change the behavior from addict to rehabilitated user, then you take away the demand for drugs. Demand for drugs is fueling the supply of drugs into the country. We would have less crowding in jails, stop the circle of repeat offenses and save about $300 billion a year. Zero tolerance policies are the most ridiculous and non-beneficial things ever created.

    Good luck!

    February 24, 2010 at 1:46 pm |
  24. MS

    i am a former chevy owner that was shut down i can reopen and hire my people back but cant get bank financing what shoild i do??

    February 24, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
  25. Jorge

    The solution is simple yet difficult to impose because it is the very people we are tired of who will never let a law such as what I'm considering pass. We need to reduce the incomes of people who run for government office.
    These positions should not be influential and power class based. They must be based on a curb. If the citizen takes a loss because of governments unworthy leadership then government should likewise take a loss. Do without as many perks, health care, elaborate dinners and travel expenses as all the rest of us do without.
    It would cut the budget tremendously and less opportunistic people may apply for the posts. disallow mainstream media ( Television and Radio, Newspapers) from selling advertising time to candidates during campaigns. Everybody tighten their belts... including the President... does he really need a Doctor with him twenty four hours a day? As he consistently brags about? If he gets sick and dies we can always vote someone else in, why the over abundant cost for his health its really a slap in the face to people who cant even afford to go to a doctor. I don't care if he champions health care or not . Until a huge majority of the public have decent health care no member of our government should have such a highly beneficial privilege for themselves. Citizens, we are hearkening back to the days of royalty if we allow our government representatives to live so high and powerful as the rest of us struggle and claw uphill to make ends meet.

    February 24, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
  26. howard

    I think that representatives and senators should be picked by computer like a jury. You would have to serve and stay in a dorm while being compensated for your salary and living expenses plus trips home. It would emliminate money from elections and provide balance fair government truly by a representation of the people. You could only serve once and could be excused just like jury duty. Your employer would have to give your job back when you finish your service(just like the national guard).

    February 24, 2010 at 1:40 pm |
  27. Bettina

    I would love to see a two term rule setup for the Senate and Congress.
    I believe if you stay to long in office you become corrupt.

    February 24, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
  28. Jason

    Not sure it is congress that is broken. I believe it is all the administrators in the government protecting their turf and feeding wrong data to congress. You see it is the federal administrators that lobby or cause businesses to lobby congress through contracting relationships. Administrators are really responsible for this mess. Congress members have not a clue as to what really goes on in the administrative trenches – oh by the way that is where all the money is changing hands. Ultimately no administrator in their right mind will allow metrics to monitor performance-too costly, supposedly. If metrics were in place and results recorded then members of congress would be able to use money more wisely.

    February 24, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
  29. Carol Wacker

    Pass legislation called ONE AT A TIME! Any bill will include one concept with the cost included. Preferably the bill will be presented on ONE PAGE and put on the Internet for 48 hours. The subsequent debate must be on C-SPAN. The final vote will be published on the Internet.
    For example: propose tort reform and let the citizens see who votes for/against the measure. Then take up the issue of insurance companies being allowed to sell in all states. The electronic records. TAKE EACH CONCEPT, ONE AT A TIME.

    February 24, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  30. matt

    when the interest of major corporations comes before the interest of the American people we will never have a government that works for everyone. now the rich get richer because there voice is heard. as a politician who cares about the middle class guy, they are concerned with making policies that help the corporations that funded there elections, or there agendas. how about not allowing donations to fund elections. and how about making policies that prohibit politicians from owning stock in companies, or be allowed to work for the companies they helped while in office. then maybe we could get health care passed, insurance companies, and drug companies would have no political pull. neither would oil companies for that matter.

    February 24, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
  31. Dr. Goodman

    I am quite sure that congress is broken. It is infected with some unethical public servants who often see the job in congress as a means to enrich themselves Some play endless political con games to give the surface appearance of doing the right things for the people but often it is only an illusion. Some will still remain under the influence and control of others including large corporations which funnels tons of money and other favors. Some will still support a system that allows tons of federal tax dollars be wasted or stolen. Congress has also turned a blind eye toward the private and public financial insititutions in the USA which steal tons of money. I wonder if this is due the fact that some of these financial institutions money was funneled to members of congress also.

    February 24, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
  32. RMC

    There are currently 290 bills which have been passed by the House
    that are sitting in the Senate's In-Box waiting for passage! 290!!!
    This number is staggering and totally reflective of the GOP's desire to destroy Obama's presidency. The GOP position is simplicity itself. If no bills are passed, the Republicans can say that their opponents are incapable of passing legislation and should therefore be removed from office. This, even though it was THEIR DOING that caused it!!
    And just how do the minority (41) stop the passage of 290 pieces of legislature when the majority (59) are in favor of passage??? THE FILIBUSTER!!!
    This God-awful piece of obstructionism must be ended and the majority (as voted in by the people) should have their say until such time as they are voted out!!! This is fair to BOTH parties!!

    February 24, 2010 at 12:55 pm |
  33. RickinLA

    Other than getting rid of the lobbyist (good luck with that).

    1. If you want to filibuster you MUST actually be in the chamber and speak.
    2. Term Limits of 2 terms for all members of Congress.

    Not a complete solution, but a darn good start.

    February 24, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  34. tom l

    Neither of your interviewees mentioned the committee structures, party caucus system, or seniority as problems that inhibit Congress from running more smoothly and getting new policies passed. Until those barriers are knocked down, we will always have gridlock in Congress, partisan or not. Congress needs to restructured on NONPARTISAN lines. Committee chairs and membership should be realigned so members have to rotate after one to two terms (Senate and House, respectively), election of Speaker needs to be done by committee of whole in the House not by party caucus, senate majority leader needs to go and replaced with an elected position similar to new speaker of House as just mentioned, party caucus can continue but they should not dictate the business of either house of Congress, the rules committees should be eliminated entirely .. I could go on and on, but I have other things to do.

    February 24, 2010 at 11:43 am |
  35. Randy

    Term limits for both congress and senate are a diffinate need. This country was never intended to be run by professional politicians.

    February 24, 2010 at 11:05 am |
  36. nancy

    when you say the government is broken, I sit here and shake my head. People are still getting treated in VA Hospitals, people are still getting SS benefits, the IRS still exists and does it's job, and all the other federal employees are doing their jobs. So, it's not totally broken, is it?

    There are so many things that are wrong with the way the government is RUN. Political appointees that run the agencies no longer work for the good of the agency. The workers (for the most part – and I've had lots of experience in this area) are still working. Most of them want to do a good job. Unfortunately, you can thank the past administration for getting rid of government employees, and replacing them with "contract" employees, who could give a hoot if they do a good job. After all, they don't get the benefits – wonder why they slow things down. duh...

    The waste of federal agencies starts at the top, do you know this? It's a huge problem and you can't just lump it all into one ball and set it at the feet of government employees.

    So ironic that Congress did not include themselves when they "reformed" government in 1984. they took away the civil service retirement system, and made all future employees contribute to Social Security for a pension. What's wrong with this picture?

    February 24, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  37. mary powell

    the government has been broken for a few decades now. The circle of the rich have been keeping America in their pockets. The government is suppose to work FOR the people, but ours works for themselves not carring for the country. Bush proved that, he just wanted to fill his pocket book better.Which he did..the politians have passed laws to protect themselves from we the people. We should fire all these rich circle of creeps and get a whole new government. Take some of the People who are honest and hard working and let them remake America. As long as the SAME cirlce of RICH dishonest folks get to run our government, we the people will suffer, as they have their own agendas to protect and do for themselves.

    February 24, 2010 at 8:21 am |
  38. The logger

    We are rapidly degenerating into a third world country.
    Part of the role of government is to provide conditions in which the citizenry can flourish.
    We have many folks living in bangladesh-style housing, and dying from lack of health care.
    Our colleges and universities are the most expensive in the western world, freezing talented students out.
    Congress fiddles while the U.S. self destructs.

    February 24, 2010 at 6:51 am |
  39. Terry Brookman

    The first post I read was about caring about the poor people as compared to the middle class. I guess I could say no. the rich do not care about the poor and always defer that topic to the middle class as they do for all the faults of this country. The ones in charge always get elected because they speak to the poor with false change and hope while they tax the middle class more and more to supposedly fix the problems with money which always goes to the top of the food chain but never comes down. one of the reasons it stays on top is pure greed another is the great sounding bills they pass: making themselves look good, but do not fund, such as no child left behind. Short version, the politicians are corrupt and are playing good cop bad cop with us all. You see we have a one party system disguised as a two party system. This has been going on full speed sense the killing of JFK and has gotten much worse in the last fifteen years, NAFTA and free trade, nothing is free as the people started getting laid off when Clinton was president. This last year and a half only the middle class got hurt, face it the poor did not watch as thirty years of savings went down the drain and their property lost over a third of it's valve. The rich could loose a million and that would still leave them with millions. When the money did start down it was the very people that helped those who started the crash, the bankers are giving ten million dollar perks for job well done. It is not the middle class who are beginning to see how screwed they are getting, it's a lot of the poor to, one being myself. Can all this be fixed, perhaps if we stopped being manipulated and class defined and started being Americans again(not republicans or democrats) but Americans. Yes the people in Washington are bought off bunch of lying bastards and need to be tared and feathered. Outside or an armed revolt the only way I see out of this mess is to not pay your taxes, thats right on April tenth go to your bank and take out all your money and the do not send in your tax money if you owe. I believe that should get their attention and perhaps they might lessen to some terms. I'm on a rant here but please let me finish. My terms would start with the promises they have made and then not fulled, That would give us a written record of what they said. I would like to see out troops from every combat zone brought home, I would like us to sell NO military equipment to anyone, food only! Because war brings huge debt and division. I would like to see any company who has more people working in another country pay a equal import duty to the value of the same product made here. This is just a start but you get the drift. Last but not least, get rid of the FED, are you a real country when your national bank in owned by other private banks? Is it broken, YES, can it be fixed? Well I'm not going to live long enough to see it but I hope so, we were the best once and we still are if we get rid of the leaches.

    February 24, 2010 at 5:27 am |
  40. Linda Voce

    I initially thought that the need to continually come up with campaign money was the main issue since they need to spend so much time on fundraising – and they must constantly keep their funders happy. What would seem to fix that would be term limits – but there are problems with that solution. First of all – our government is complicated and very important – not only with domestic issues but also with international issues – experience and respect earned over years of service should not be completely discounted. But how do you handle the problems with the amount of money that flows through Washington from lobbyists then ? What if we are looking at the problem from the wrong angle. Maybe it's not the corruptibiity and distraction of the politicians we should be trying to fix – maybe it is the volume of government. Government on a smaller lever would have less to be corrupted over. Maybe it is the size of government that leads to the corruption – not necessarily the terms of the govenors...but the potential profit to a few of the governed. Commerical economy functions like a democratic government. Consumers vote with their dollars, citizens vote at the ballot box. Both system function well. I think the problem arises when you try to merge the two. When government becomes a mega consumer then it becomes a target for corruption. I bet you would find that the return on lobbying dollars spent in Washington is far greater that the return on advertising dollars spent on the general public. We have been turning government and our representatives slowly away from governmental / philisophical issues (which are less corruptable) and making them focus more so on commerce and consumer oriented issues which are much more short term and subjective to influence from the outside.....
    Just a thought..

    February 23, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
  41. Paul Stewart

    The problem is it is no longer a democracy. It is a duopoly that used to be benevolent in favour or the common good. It is now malevolent in favour of each party's own good, which is now formulated, as outlined in the article, as being a mutually exclusive "either or" choice. With efforts by both sides, but I would say more by the "ends justifies the means" Republicans, to pull out all stops including the pillars of democracy and the tenets of the forefathers to modify the system and peoples beliefs to lean in their own favour. And it might even be describe as s duo-dictatorship that oscillates from one extreme to the the other, when the middle is the real right place. And the price of this is to divide Americans right down the middle. I have to say from a distance that the Republicans are the worst offenders. Politicizing even the judicial system. America is paying the price. It risks even becoming a failed nation – split asunder. Civil war is not out of the question if you look at the tea party lunatic fringe. All fomented and supported by Republicans encouraging these types to live in an alternate reality. I hope you all get a good grip and get this resolved. Not for my sake, but for your sake. It is a complete mess and near to being irreparable without destroying the fabric of your country.

    February 23, 2010 at 8:47 pm |
  42. William Visocky

    Listening to these comments by people who really care and want to fix these problems has been a privelege. It is real bipatisan "We the People" at work and looking for answers. In the spirit of our founding fathers why not upgrade the Constitution globally on the intenet. Draw the best and the most freedom loving people from every nation under the sun. Think outside the box. The internet is the most powerful tool that we have and it would definitely be the greatest equalizer and it is a non-military endeavor. It is the best teaching tool that we have. People are imprisioned by ignorance and poverty. We got the tools, we just need a vision and a strong will to make a difference. All things are possible, only believe.

    February 23, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  43. BDA

    Re: Congress Pensions:

    CNN's re[port on the lavish congressional pensions only scratched the surface!!!!

    Did you know that: A portion of the pension goes on to survivors after the Cong/Rep's death?? i.e., in perpetuity almost???

    did you know that their health benefits extend with the Pension, and they too go on to survivors as well???

    Why does not CNN do a full accounting and report on the true annual cost of the above to the US taxpayer, today and projected???? Particularly since none of us, except auto workers working for Government Motors, have similar plans????

    February 23, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  44. John Naylor

    What if we set up coalitions of 5,000 to 10,000 like minded citizens? What if each coalition had a representative, or proxy, that could communicate with a Congressman in Washington? Now instead of 600,000 screaming constituents, a Congressman could listen to 60 Proxies that could easily communicate the desires of the people. These Proxies would act like lobbyists for citizens, and could monitor the performance of their Representative and Senators. Citizens would have a much easier time communicating with their Proxy than they would with their Congressman.
    This "Proxy Layer" of representation would be independent of government and require no changes to the Constitution, and no additional legislation. It is time for the Proxy Solution!

    February 23, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  45. Fred

    The Congress in this country is a joke. It is clear that the HAVE and HAVE NOTS are still the reason for laws being passed or not. The Congress have demonstrated that they only care about BIG BUSINESS and their money. They could care less about how the HAVE NOTS feed their families and let's not talk about health care. These are some sick people and the do not care about this country, they only care about their own pockets. There are real people suffering because of jobs and beginning January 2010 health care costs for those that work have increased like they have over the last 15 years. Where are the Congress Members blocking this increase across the US? The Super Majority vote should be cancelled and Congress should should pass laws based on the Majoruty vote only. This country has never been united and will never be because of this idea of seperate parties. This party division is destroying our country. When a person runs for Congress they should be judged on their record instead of party affiliation.

    February 23, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
  46. Bob

    The problem with Congress is how Congress is set up -now. To break this log jam and get Congress on track there really is only one way.: appeal Amendment 17 of the Constitution. The Senators will be responsible to their State Legislatures and therefor more willing to compromise on large legislation – even in an election year.

    February 23, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
  47. pj rogers

    There is one solution and only one! Majority rules...51% wins. If you are a republican or a democrat, think of what or who would you vote for when you knew their vote was #51%. Changes everything doesn't it? One one question needs to be asked by our elected officials.
    Will this problem be solved and move the country forward and keep america competitive? For example, we have a healtrh care plan for everyone already in place..all we have to do is manage it a little better. Make 50-64 eligible in 2011, raise the rates to adjust for costs, then in 2012 go to 40-30. 2013, for 21-29 and adjust again. I can almost guarantee we will spend less than private health care costs will be in 3-4 years. Make prescription drugs a competitive program and go from there. Do you think 51% of america would go for that idea? Some would call that socialism, i call it "keeping the money out of the hands of the 5% who own it today'" and begin to give it back to the 95% who made those 5% rich! Maybe its time to go back to Profit-Sharing" instead of CEO's getting all the big bucks..51% wil work!

    February 23, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
  48. Completely fed up

    Want to fix it? Term Limits, Term limits. Before they become too entrenched in the establishment, kick these self serving parasites(they do live off of us) out of office bring in a new set of folks. This is probably wishful thinking , but I think we would get rid of them before the 'special interest' folks can corrupt them. How can you vote NO or Yes for everything ? No testicular fortitude.

    February 23, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
  49. Dolly Dimple Kester

    Ali, if any one could vote in any primary, why wouldn't that person vote for the person in the other party who was less likely to win in the national election, therefor giving their candidate a better chance to win?

    February 23, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
  50. Tom from Los Angeles

    Remember what happened to the Roman Republic – food for thought

    February 23, 2010 at 2:29 pm |
  51. George Urbaniak

    Best way to repair our broken government is to find a way to control the lobbying that goes on unrestrained. I don't think our forefathers had todays' government in mind when they put the ability for lobbying in the Constitution, and I think they would be the first to advocate the control of lobbying as it exists today.

    February 23, 2010 at 2:27 pm |
  52. Jay1776

    Until Congress or the states through a constitutional congress change the laws that favor a two party system there will be no change in our government. The only way Congress will be fixed is through a three or more party system in which no party has a majority and all parties are forced to compromise. Right now our government is a disaster because each party only represents itself and not the people and their only concern is being reelected in two years. Because of this it is impossible to think strategically, long term, and to accomplish anything meaningful. I for one will never vote for another Democrat or Republican at the federal level. These two parties are on the verge of destroying our democracy and for what, short term personal gain. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and our Congress is an example of this.

    February 23, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
  53. Jeff Tautges

    The government is only as broken as the Constitution is. How often is anyone in government found to be in violation of the Constitution? If the things government does and fails to do fall within what is legal, nothing will stop them from doing whatever they want.

    The best kept secret in America, hiding in plain sight, is that we have the right to hold a Constitutional Convention... it's right there in the Constitution. But no one ever sites a Constitutional Convention as a means to reel in government and place it under control of the people.

    We, the People, can just say no. But we can only do that if we have a Constitutional Convention that excludes all career politicians, lobbyists, consultants and special interest groups,etc.
    As much as we all may admire and respect the founders of our nation, let's face it, folks; the founders are ancient people who wrote a Constitution with no idea what the future would bring. The Constitution is an antique that needs to be upgraded by the very people who shall have to live under it.

    I think that CNN and other media ought to raise the issue of holding a Constitutional Convention. So many things could be fixed in short order simply by upgrading the Constitution for modern times to deal with modern problems that the founders had no possible way to even imagine would exist in the 21st century.

    II would love to see just ordinary, everyday people talking openly about how they would make the Constitution fix the broken government.

    February 23, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
  54. On your own

    My fellow Americans......the political system is not broken at all. It works fine. It merely reflects the compeating views of its' diverse citizens.

    What we have in the US is a philisophical divide between two distinct and very different points of view. One point of view understands that each American is free to rise or fall based on their own abilities, intelligence, motivation, and determination. These folks don't want the federal gov't interferring or controlling any aspect of our free society. Leave us alone they cry! They don't want to have their hard earned money taken and redistributed to someone else who the federal gov't decides should have it. Keed out of my wallet they protest!! They are the doers, the acheivers, the job creators...they are the conservatives. They are the payors....the ones enslaved to pay for the takers. They hate the beast. They know it only takes, bullies, and destroys.

    The other group of folks are well meaning, but they have the naive belief the the federal gov't can fix all their problems, fix all societies inequalities, by surrendering their individual rights and destinys to some sort of communal or group value system. Liberals function on emotion, not logic. They believe life is inherently unfair and hope the federal gov't will swoop down and save them from their own inadequacies and/or inabilities to take care of themselves. These folks are generally defined as liberals. They want to impose a "liberal" or "generous" dose of intrusive federal gov't into our society believing that only the federal gov't can provide them and others like them with financial "freebies" that they are unable to accumulate on their own. They want the acheivers to be forced to pay and provide for their comfortable retirement and their medical bills. They love the beast. They hope it gives them something for free. They are the takers.

    So one group wants to feed and grow the beast....the other group wants to starve, weaken and shrink the beast. These two opposing philosophies can never work together because their goals are mutually exclusive.

    You can choose individual freedom or you can choose servitude to the group, but you cannot choose both. I choose freedom.

    February 23, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
  55. nick in CT

    Yesterday Ali Velchi made a comment which struck me as being pertinent to the issue being discussed. He asked,"How much of the money we pay our representatives in Washington to do the peoples work is actually spent on doing that work and how much is spent on getting themselves re-elected?" I also read that there was a proposal in the Health Care Reform bills now in contention to define how much the Insurance companies had to spend on actual "health care" and how much of the premium dollar taken in could be spent on their own overhead. When we give to a charity/nonprofit organization it is easy enough to find out where each piece of that dollar goes that we give. Why not have data available to the general public to find the same for their elected officials, especially BEFORE an important vote is going to be taken.
    It's a shame to see the Supreme Court overturn campaign financing laws that we all worked so hard to get legislated and even harder to get enforced for all the reasons that have brought us to this point. It riles me to hear Mitch McConnell praise the judges decision and then deny that that decision does not have political motives or to see Senator Shelby is holding his vote for administration nominees ransom for his own political pork barrel projects.And then to hear Mitch whine about how Washington is broken.and Senator Shelby's arrogant response of ,"I was just seeing if I could get any ones attention." Oh , I'm sure I could find a Democrat in the same boat, but to this day I've not heard one thing from Washington about how they've passed legislation to see to it that the economic meltdown we had at the end of 2008 won't happen again. And still the banking industry gives huge bonuses and, and the insurance companies report they are going to raise premiums by 30%. And i can't remember if Congress voted themselves a raise again this year? Have you?

    February 23, 2010 at 1:59 pm |
  56. Doris Riggs

    To stop gridlock, make the congress focus on their current term rather than their next and be reelected based on their constituients approval of their service. Do this by not allowing Incumbents to solicit for campaign funds for their next election during time they are supposed to be serving. With the Supreme court ruling that allows cooperations to fund campaign ads, the scoundrels have enough help getting reelected.

    February 23, 2010 at 1:45 pm |
  57. Chris

    "The Democrats were overwhelmingly voted into office in 2008 so that they might have a chance to fix the country's problems. What chance have they had given the Republican's lockstep vote of NO to EVERYTHING proposed."

    The Democrats had a free chance to do whatever they wanted to do and they squandered bickering with themselves.

    February 23, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
  58. Ken Adler

    Congress IS broken. It's because Americans believe the myth of , "the two party system". They are two sides of the same dirty, beat up coin. Lobbyists working for big corporations write the legislation and Congress rubber stamps it and sends it through. It doesn't matter which of the two majors is running the show, the outcome is the same in the long run. Congressmen should be required to wear the patches of their sponsorson their suits, like NASCAR drivers. The answer is getting new blood in there, and people who don't owe allegiance to corporate sponsors or their party chiefs. Alternative party candidates, and LOTS of them.

    February 23, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
  59. Jon Williams

    In my opinion there are a couple of things that could help fix the muck we are in. First, we could go back to the notion of majority rules. The Senate is the body that has built in protection of small states having equal protection from large states. So why the need for a super majority? In it's current form, our Senators have more of an incentive to be the last vote to break a gridlock and secure deals for their constituents disproportionate of the whole electorate which is the inverse of the intention to be a check against the system.
    Secondly, I think all Senators should be up for 1 6 year term. This would remove the temptation to play politics to save your own position and get down to the actual business of governing.

    February 23, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
  60. Steve

    @Robert: Yes, you're poor... with Internet access. The "poor" people in this country pay no taxes, receive virtually unlimited welfare (in Ohio they give you $1400/mo for having 2 kids and no job), and have better healthcare than the majority of the middle class! I am 100% tired of all of the "entitled" poor people complaining about their lack of luxury. Get off your duff, get a job, and grow up. You're not entitled to anything. Neither am I. America is the land of OPPORTUNITY, not the land of ENTITLEMENT. There's a distinct difference. You have to work for it here. At least that's how it used to be.

    If you are indeed "poor" - what basic necessity are you lacking?? It obviously isn't access to the Internet. If you are going without food, water or adequate shelter, you might want to forgo that Internet access and shift your spending priorities– you know, like the majority of the middle class are doing right now. Or, you might not want to classify yourself as "poor" any longer. We've got to be the only country on the planet with cell phone equipped, Internet connected, overweight "poor" people.

    February 23, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
  61. John Davidson

    It never ceases to amaze me as our elected officials continuously overlook the most obvious causes of government inefficiency. It is as plain as the nose on your faces (both of them). Your allegiance to your political parties has always trumped ANY allegiance to your voter base. The reason is simply that your political party has helped you buy the votes, and therefore has earned your support. The time has come to eliminate the organized political parties, and to prohibit lobbying. Yes, I know I am asking you to make a tough choice. The political party system will someday cause the kind of revolt that labor unions and management caused so many years ago. The good people of America will only tolerate so much. To date you in our government have taken way too many liberties and behaved extremely poorly. The vast majority of our elected officials seem to feel they are of some elite status, and untouchable. It is high time you all get back on track. You are in office to guide the country in a positive direction regardless of your personal feelings, political affiliations, and/or beliefs. This is why the party system (a monopoly) must be dissolved. Get it done!

    February 23, 2010 at 12:26 pm |
  62. Tony

    A start would be to cut the House in half. Let me put it this way: as technology advances, industries have found ways to do more work with fewer people. Well, now with the internet, email, Facebook, Twitter, ect., etc., there is no reason that each congressperson shouldn't be able to adequately represent a larger constituency.

    Double the size of every congressional district, so 1/2 of the house would keep their seats. This may help to limit the effect of gerrymandering. At the very least, we'd be getting a little more bang for the buck. As for the Senate, I think 2 per state is about right, so I don't know what to do there. And I realize there's no way the House would vote to put 1/2 of it's members on unemployment. But it should happen.

    February 23, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
  63. Billy

    ....term limits at ALL levels of Government; and remove the $$ from Government. Prohibit Lobbyists and Impose REAL CAMPAIGN Finance Limits.

    February 23, 2010 at 11:32 am |
  64. Kevin Findley

    I think the next election will point the way. The old cast of characters has to go! This has nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans… it has everything to do with their failure to serve their constituents in favor of special interests. Its going to be tough but we have to wait until November 2010 because it a blatantly obvious that Washington DC is not listening and are trying desperately to hang on the their old ways of tax and spend. The Country is screaming “NO MORE”!

    February 23, 2010 at 11:20 am |
  65. Paul Mysza

    First, I think term limits must apply in congress. A politician should only be allowed to serve two terms and then never again be allowed to hold an office. these life long politicians are getting too comfortable and complacent in their jobs. Holding a political office is a civil duty one elects to serve, not a career.
    Second, we should not allow lobbying groups to bribe our politicians to vote for their special interests. it is not always in the interest of the public. Lobbying is a legal form of bribary in our government. If you were to bribe a public official, you would probably get a court date.
    Third, our politicians must listen to their constituents; not only the rich ones who pad their campaigns, but also the middle and lower class voters, which make up the majority of America.
    And Fourth, the government should be afraid of its people rather than the people being afraid of its government. the government is supposed to be working for us. France executed a government that took advantage of its people, and things have gone quite well for them since this happening. I am not saying to execute our govt, but rather get rid of all the corrupt, inept, and lazy politicians that have been riding the easy train for way too long.

    February 23, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  66. Eugene

    Politics have become frustrating with parties willing to sacrifice national welfare for their own short-term gains. Perhaps there should be a national discussion on reducing the role of Congress in national politics.

    My major example would be the health care negotiations in the Senate when a group of senators representing states with a population lower than that of Virginia alone (7 million plus). They did not represent the nation, just a tiny portion of who we are.

    It may be time to restructure our government before the treats of some to launch a "revolution" gains traction.

    February 23, 2010 at 8:04 am |
  67. ronvan

    Altlhough we can blame the politicians, WE the people, are also at fault. We talk about term limits, career politicians, etc., but WE are the ones that continue to vote them in! At this point in time the only way I can see "WE the people" taking back control is to VOTE everyone OUT! This would send a clear message that WE are fed up with government as usual!

    February 23, 2010 at 8:01 am |
  68. JRozier

    Just get rid of all the Republicans that block and hold up the system because they want to just make President Obama look bad when it comes to election time. The GOP will say that he got nothing done, which would be true because these idiots did nothing but sit on their hands and ran their mouths.

    February 23, 2010 at 7:56 am |
  69. Mitchell

    CNN you have a history that if it is liberal or socolist you are among the first to pour the cool-aid in favor of it. Then you run around beating your drum that all the problems it caused must be fixed even when you have helped cause the problem.

    February 23, 2010 at 4:51 am |
  70. David M

    "im tired of hearing about the rich getting richer and the middle class having to give up small things that their use to getting..."

    I've been homeless, I've been the middle class, and in the span of 10 years from being on the streets I now make over 200k a year. I have a high school education after failing a year.

    It wasn't easy, it wasn't fun, but I made the best of whatever situation came along, learned from my mistakes, and never gave up hope. During my time on the streets I never took a dime of government money and helped others when I could.

    That is what being an American is about.

    All this finger pointing and self entitlement is crap and doesn't accomplish a single thing. Every single one of us has the ability to make a difference somewhere and yet 99.99% of people never get off their butts to do so and squander all the opportunities that we each have around us each and every day.

    The world doesn't owe you anything. If you want something then you have to make the opportunities if you cannot find them, and when possible help others out or provide encouragement as you go along. We seem to have forgotten what it took to build this country.

    If you aren't helping with the solution then you are a part of the problem. Feel free to go live in any other country in the world and see how much better off you are. The poor in America live like kings compared to many other places in the world.

    If you don't like what you have in life then change it. If you aren't willing to change it then you the only finger you can point is at yourself.

    February 23, 2010 at 4:46 am |
  71. Axel

    The way I see it, the main problem with Congress is two-fold. First off, there are the people who elect our representatives. This article quotes John Roberts as saying "We had a poll out last week, 63% of respondents think most members of Congress don’t deserve to be re-elected. Yet, on average, in an election, 90% of House members return." If that 63% of voters stopped voting for people who "don’t deserve to be re-elected" then they wouldn't be re-elected.

    Solution: Vote for someone else!

    Secondly, our representatives frequently seem to forget who they are supposed to be representing once they get elected. They are supposed to represent the people, not big corporations.

    Solution: Vote for someone else!

    Stop complaining about Congress and do something about it. Vote for someone else!

    February 23, 2010 at 4:28 am |
  72. Jeff Valasek

    And, there it is – someone 'blaming' the districting. (Can anyone say 'out of touch with the people'? How about actually voting for the interest of the PEOPLE that voted you there, rather than the 'interest' of PAC's, Lobbyists, party affiliation, Pork for YOUR area (at a cost to ALL of us (well, the taxpayers, the 'forgotten'), and whatever else.
    Ain't 'by the people, of the people, and for the people' no more.
    T'aint right, and I, for one, fully intend to vote out anyone who voted for 'bailing out' PRIVATE companies, at PUBLIC (taxpayer!) expense.
    This is America, where the freedom to succeed (or fail) should be respected.
    'too big to fail' is actually too big to save, too costly, too damaging.
    And, might be worth a thought, that might not only apply to people and businesses, but also to governments.
    Just one man's opinion, Jeff

    February 23, 2010 at 1:51 am |
  73. David

    Stop the bickering already, lets get things moving again. I I vote to be represented, represent me already... I am not going to vote for someone who is afraid to make a decision because they might not get re-elected. I mean one way or the other your going to be criticized, so vote based upon what you think is right. Stop the childish games.

    February 22, 2010 at 9:41 pm |
  74. Bethany

    We fix our broken government when we quit undercutting hard working American citizens. Competition on paper works, however in reality it causes cheating at all costs to stay on top. Cheating comes in the form of outsourcing, insourcing and special interest groups. When we outsource, Americans are not working , when we insource ( importing low wage workers) Americans are not working and when special interest push their agenda it is not in the interest of the working American. As a result of global competition we are cutting off our supply of high quality American standards and goods in spite of ourselves and that is why we are broken.

    February 22, 2010 at 9:25 pm |
  75. Jennifer Abbott

    Dear Congressperson:

    As a duly elected official whose salary is paid by us tax-payers, just exactly what did you do TODAY to earn that salary? What did you do toward helping us find real jobs that will allow us to feed our families today, and pay our bills and mortgages today, not in 2012 when you get reelected or your fellow party person finally gets elected and gives you that filibuster edge in Congress.

    Sir, madam, I am not interested at all in hearing about 'who is responsible for the mess our country is in'. I know we're in a mess, and that we Americans got here due to bad decisions, crooked deals, and all that. But knowing this doesn't help any of us secure employment, nor does it pay our overdue Wells Fargo and CitiMortgage bills. Whats worse, it doesn't do anything to help our country regain its self-respect.

    I almost forgot, isn't is wonderful that USA Hockey is going for the gold in Vancouver? Don't you agree that their success is the result of a fine team of athletes following the best judgment of their appointed coach?

    Thank you.

    I really look forward to hearing about your day.

    Has the media discarded its responsibility as the "fourth power" and its duty to report objectively about what each Congressman DOES on a daily basis rather than feed us noise on the latest rudeness, showmanship, vulgarity, and disrespect that comes out of the mouths of elected or wannabe elected officials?

    February 22, 2010 at 8:14 pm |
  76. Barry

    The Middle American Prosperity Party has a Constitution that can repair our government. But we needs support and media coverage. We are not about sound bits, or bumper sticker slogans. It is a thought out comprehensive approach to solving our problems.

    If you are interested, send me an email address where I can forward you the first draft.

    MAPP the Future

    February 22, 2010 at 7:40 pm |
  77. dude

    gridlock is good if it keeps the government from raising my taxes and meddling in my affairs

    February 22, 2010 at 7:15 pm |
  78. Chris

    Government no more broken then it ever has been, personally. I'd wager that the only real difference is how conscious we are of how it is working right now, and how exaggerated that is due to the growing fracture between the parties. I have to say that I was very impressed by the guests you had for this piece and for the first time in a long time actually though both sides, Democrat and Republican, made valid arguments without defaulting to a buzzword shouting match. We have such a diverse society that I agree that what works for the West doesn't necessarily work for the South which wouldn't work for the North which wouldn't work for the Midwest and so on so to try and turn this into a Left v. Right argument only causes deeper ruptures.

    And that is where I do find fault with Washington. We, the voting citizens of the United States, elect those that represent the majority of the views of our community to speak for us in the National Congress. But these individuals that we send to stand as representatives of a region then fall victim to the inherent machine of doing what one must for survival and end up leaving behind the localized views to which they serve for a partisan game of Capture The Flag pitting two irrational and impossible concepts (the Republican Party and the Democratic Party) in a perpetual match that neither will ever win. This leaves the fate of every voting citizen, left, right or center, in the hands of the game's topic du jour.

    Simply put, if the Right was always right, we'd have no Left. And if the Left was always right, we'd have no Right.

    But as your guests stressed, these representatives have no choice but to band with their party for survival because I think with everything as it is – the economy, the wars, the shift to a liberal majority Washington, the right playing the victim (I'm sorry, I really try to stay neutral, but when you try so hard to disagree with everything and your posterboy says 'I want Him To Fail' and you agree, you've become the problem) – the American people are paying attention to their little Capture The Flag game for the first time in a long time and that has put more pressure on these two teams to score those extra points before November.

    I like to think everyone goes to Washington for the right reasons, and I'm sorry to say that I think those who stick to their guns are the ones that come home the soonest, but I think we the people are to blame as well for falling victim to the team's cheerleaders and paying less attention to what's REALLY at stake.

    February 22, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  79. William Visocky

    How do we fix a broken goverment? California wants a quick fix by legalizing marijuana and homosexuality. Wall Street wants freedom to steal without accountability. Corporate America wants to take over the government and our judges are helping them do it. Our religious leaders are a bunch of fault-finding hypocrites that justify sin. Our motto should be "In God we distrust and after money we lust". If a child can't receive correction he or she is illigitimate. So how do you bastards of the republic expect God to bless this nation? Wm

    February 22, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  80. Guedo Bartlioni

    I think we should impose what is effectively a lottery system to draft individuals to serve in the House. No matter how you slice it the costs of getting elected means that special interest organizations actually run our government because of the high cost of getting elected. Obviously certain criteria including academic achievement, not having gotten in serious trouble with the law, and so forth must be factored into it, and a selected individual should have the right to decline the appointment. Now as for the senate; three term limit and stiff limits on campain finances must be applied. We do need the senior leadership of seasoned senators, but the House composed of volunteers chosen by lottery ensures that a random sample of the people's views are represented more than the largest contributor to an election. Someone got a better idea?

    February 22, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  81. Robert Slaven

    Gerrymandering is THE problem! Force districts to be more "regular" in shape. Choose non-political committees (like the Citizens Redistricting Commitee in CA that will draw the state house and senate districts) instead of leaving it to the "professional politicians". Make guidelines for how seats should be drawn like the excellent guidelines used in Iowa.

    Fewer extremists who only campaign in their primaries and coast through the general election. More candidates who are moderate and represent the voters in the middle, not the ones on the fringes. More "Get Things Done" and less "No", "More", and "Mine"!

    February 22, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  82. Michael Amoroso

    We need term limits for Congress. 12 years as a Representative and 12 years as a Senator. We do not need career politicians running the country.

    February 22, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  83. nan

    I want Congress to stop worrying about "IF"!!!
    What about "WILL"? Will this this improve?
    Will the people be able to try this?
    Will a open mind help the situation?
    Those are only a few questions they should be basing their votes on...
    Not "Will I get re-elected?"

    February 22, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
  84. Jim N

    Federal Debt seems to have a role in the gridlock

    Our excessive borrowing and budget deficit have their origins in our excessive dependence on foreign oil. Our balance of payments problem comes from importing 60-70% of our oil from other countries. We are forced to borrow money from China and others to pay for it.

    To balance our budget and end foreign debt we need to develop our own energy sources. This should be, after security, our first priority.

    Huge deposits of oil shale in Wyoming offer a nearly inexhaustible source of Petro energy. Plants are needed to extract the gas and oil from the shale. Tens of thousands of good jobs would be created to build and operate these plants. The wages would stay within the US and the taxes on the wages would help balance the budget, payoff debt and generate secondary jobs. You get a "2fer" or even a "3fer" if you count the money not borrowed.

    The money we are paying for energy would, again, stay within the US. This income stream could be used to finance atomic, solar and wind power, where the investment costs are high.

    February 22, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
  85. william miller

    We want congress to be deadlocked while the dems are in charge. As tio how to fix congress, repeat the phrase term limits 1000 times or until you get the idea. As for Robert, I never knew a poor person who offered me a job. Think about it!

    February 22, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
  86. Joy Collier

    Our banking system is completely corrupt or at least incompetent. I have a small business that needs a small line of operating capital to keep things afloat during slow times. Despite my never missing a payment, my bank has chosen to freeze my credit line, but they continue to cover my checks with a $36 overdraft charge. It is clear they make more money off me with the charges than with legitimate business loans. My credit is good and so is my husband's, but somehow the bank comes up with different credit scores for both of us than we get directly from all three agencies.

    I can't believe they got bailed out and then our government keeps allowing them to get away with this. They should not be enjoying interest free loans from the government if they refuse to lend to viable businesses.

    February 22, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
  87. Tom

    @robert

    And tell me, why should we trust you? I mean, if you are poor, you have obviously made some pretty bad decisions in your life. It's not like schools in the US aren't free, that there aren't financing options for college. I think I would rather trust someone a little better off than me because they obviously did something right...

    February 22, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
  88. SoulardGuy

    The only real solution is to dissolve congress. We need people that are not bought by special interest and are not a life time politician. Term limits are needed but I don’t ever see that happening. Would you create a law that fires you after some many years? Would you create a law that prevents big money from financing your election campaign?

    February 22, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
  89. Jim

    I am tired of hearing about everything being done for the middle and rich "class". I am equally tired of hearing of Congress and its self interests in fattening their retirment benefits package. Regardless of what anyone else thinks, in my opinion, our legislators are in it for themselves, and only themselves – there are some exceptions, but not many. If we don't like it, then FIX IT. Stop voting party lines. Stop being idealogical jerks. Stop with being bent on getting everything for yourself. Stop being so focused on who has what, and who doesn't.
    Vote for the person that you believe will help fix the problem. If you don't know who that is, then don't vote.
    As for Robert's comment about only the poor know what is going on – baloney. I don't think that there is any one socio-economic group that "knows" what is going on. NO ONE group has the answer.
    Stop complaining and become part of the solution.

    February 22, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
  90. Terry

    Unfortunately, we could vote out 100% of the incumbents and the new crop would do the same thing, for the very reasons Tanner and Davis brought up. We sent a new representative to Washington who has a good mind and conscience, but somehow the GOP leadership has managed to turn this man into another obstructionist, expressing the party line instead of the position he was elected on. This is not big government, not small government, it is NO GOVERNMENT at all.

    The Tea Party is no answer either, since it appears destined to do EXACTLY the same thing albeit on a much smaller scale – they appear to be unwilling to work with ANYONE for ANY REASON.

    I live in a district that is 80-20 Republican. It is not socially safe to admit to being a Democrat or having any so-called "liberal" ideas, especially in church!

    February 22, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  91. george baskin

    the senate has to repeal the 60 vote filibuster rule. it is majority rule , not 60% in this country. until we insist on this change, gridlock will continue.
    we are now letting 40% of us call the shots, not the majority.

    February 22, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
  92. Bruce

    What is rich? what is poor? The reason I ask is because no one including the president can agree on it. 250K a year is not much to someone who has 500 million, but it is to someone who has 25K. There is no answer except that the rich are people who have more than you do. I am tired of hearing about the poor, the middle class and the rich. Isn't singling someone out because of their net worth or annual income discrimination in it's purist form? it's interesting how when someone with money, what ever that means, is single out the only thing mentioned is the material things they have. Does everyone what to work the hours or put in the time to get there? NO! Take Donald Trump as an example. Yes he is rich, by my standards but he works far more hours than I want to. Do I hold it against him, no but I do want him to pay his fair share. You want to see the country come out of this debt? Two part flat tax. 4% off the top and 6% on most everything you purchase. No deductions. If you can't afford the tax you should not be making the purchase.

    February 22, 2010 at 3:22 pm |
  93. Jeff

    Professional politicians are the problem. The longer they entrench themselves in the "Washington System" the more out of touch with mainstream America they become. The only way to break this cycle is with term limits. Congressional retirements should be done away with. People should not be able to grow rich at the public teat as they are now. If you are not willing to serve this country for the love of it, then you don't need to run for office.

    February 22, 2010 at 3:08 pm |
  94. John

    I don't think most of the congressmen have any real idea anymore nor do they care what is important to the average joe citizen. They continue to line their pockets while jockeying around with the big bank, and insurance lobbist's that continue to haunt the hallways in DC. Washington DC no longer is a democracy run capitol but instead it is run by a few politicians who are continusly wine and dine with big money, all the while figuring how to beat joe citizen out some more of their hard earned rights. If things dont change our children and grandchildren will be living in no better than a third world country where government rules and the paupers bow to them.

    February 22, 2010 at 3:01 pm |
  95. John

    To fix this broken government we need a one-term limit. These idiots that stay in Congress for 20, 30 40 years are what's destroying this country. People keep re-electing them because the "silent majority" stay home and the partisan nut cases are the ones that go to the polls.

    February 22, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
  96. Derrick Chapman

    Too many Reps to keep track off. How about a Constitutional amendment to set the number at 200, and elect them at-large?

    February 22, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
  97. Elyse

    Redistricting is only a small portion of the problem. The only thing that will fix congress is campaign reform that puts everyone on the same playing field. No more lobbyist money. A constitutional admendment stating that corporations are not people and do not have the same rights as people. And most importantly, congressmen believing in "We the People" and not "Me and I".

    February 22, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
  98. RMC

    I can think of one step that would reduce the gridlock in Congress.. END THE FILIBUSTER!!!
    The Democrats were overwhelmingly voted into office in 2008 so that they might have a chance to fix the country's problems. What chance have they had given the Republican's lockstep vote of NO to EVERYTHING proposed.
    If only a majority vote were needed for new legislation, then new bills would surely get passed.
    And then the public would be back in charge since they could once again vote their approval or disapproval via the ballot box!!!

    February 22, 2010 at 1:48 pm |
  99. Sam Mansour

    Dear Carol,

    I enjoyed your segment this morning. In that segment, you touched on a subject that, I believe, needs much more serious attention. The subject is partisan politics.

    It should be rare for any group of 40 or 60 law makers in a nation to vote on all issues exactly the same way. But, that’s what happens most of the times in our country. This voting pattern, with many years of proof, clearly shows that most politicians vote along party lines, regardless of what they are voting on. How could this be possible if the interest of the party was not being put first.

    We have been operating under the multi-party system for so many years that, even though obvious, we do not see this major fault. This is much like putting the frog in a pot of cold water and gradually bringing the pot to boil. I hope we don’t end up staying in the pot and suffer the consequences. The solution: Simply do away with partisan politics.

    Partisan politics is divisive by nature. The interest of the party is put before people’s interest.

    February 22, 2010 at 1:40 pm |
  100. robert

    im tired of hearing about the rich getting richer and the middle class having to give up small things that their use to getting, does anyone care about us poor people that ACTUALLY go without ??? from what i see and hear its who? who cares about them, we poor people deal with problems better then the middle class and rich. so if you really wanna know whats going on in america ask the poor people.

    February 22, 2010 at 1:07 pm |
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