THE PRICE OF POLITICS – PRESIDENTIAL AND CONGRESSIONAL DECISION MAKING “IN ACTION” – ONE WORD OR TWO?

Partisan bickering and lack of transparency are concerns of democracy.

While common place in government today and recognized by elected official and the masses, little is done to “open-up” the “back-room” discussion and negotiations that lead to decisions, not only at the federal level but also at the state and local level.

The Price of Politics is evidence of this trend of secretive discussion leading to decisions that transform daily existence of American citizens.

Bob Woodward does an excellent job showing how complex and secretive Presidential and Congressional policy making is today.

It also tells a story showing how most Americans are excluded from knowing who’s involved and how the process functions.

At no time in history has there been a more complex process of negotiation rendered by government economic leaders, beginning with 2009 collapse of the US economy.

The initial response and those since, demonstrate the complex process of seeking political consensus for remediation policy and actions necessary to reinstate economic stability.

Woodward chronicles the 44 day period during summer of 2011 where President Obama and House Speaker Boehner sought a compromise on tax increases and entitlement budget cuts to prevent further economic calamity.

What’s interesting to many will be, not only the role decision leaders Obama and Boehner but, maybe more importantly, their key staffers and staffers from a host of various unrecognizable government agencies who actually do the analytical work and create  policy that actually results in legislation approved by Congress and the President.

The reader walks away with a frightening revelation – it’s the government policy wonks, career “government betters” to use a label that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels originated, who are in reality, the “all knowledgeable originators” of government decisions.

Woodward’s accounting, almost on an hour by hour basis demonstrates the role and influence these government betters have on critical decision that ultimately impact the daily life of every American citizen.

He also discloses the nature of the deep divides among multiple interests groups and their ability to channel special interests into a two party stalemated immoveable negotiation situation communicating only “my-way or their-way” “I’m right and their wrong” possibilities.

In today’s real world, as stated by President Obama, “if we are going to frame these [budgetary] debates in way that allow us to solve them, then we can’t start off by figuring out  a) which is to blame and b) how can we make the American people afraid of the other side. And unfortunately that’s how our politics works right now”.

Another form of compromise less confrontational, less policy work driven and more transparent to the average American is needed.

I believe Woodward would agree.

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